Saint John Damascene

Also known as

  • Doctor of Christian Art
  • Jean Damascene
  • Johannes Damascenus
  • John Chrysorrhoas (“golden-stream”)
  • John of Damascus

Memorial

Profile

Son of Mansur, representative of the Christians to the court of the Muslim caliph. Apparently thrived as a Christian in a Saracen land, becoming the chief financial officer for caliph Abdul Malek. Tutored in his youth by a captured Italian monk named Cosmas. Between the Christian teaching from the monk, and that of the Muslim schools, John became highly educated in the classical fields (geometry, literature, logic, rhetoric, etc.).

He defended the use of icons and images in churches through a series of letters opposing the anti-icon decrees of Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople. Legend says that Germanus plotted against him, and forged a letter in which John betrayed the caliph; the caliph ordered John’s writing hand chopped off, but the Virgin Mary appeared and re-attached the hand, a miracle which restored the caliph’s faith in him.

After this incident, John became a monk near Jerusalem. Priest. Anathematized by name by the 754 Council of Constantinople over his defense of the use of icons, but was defended by the 787 Seventh Council of Nicea.

Wrote The Fountain of Wisdom, the first real compendium of Christian theology, along with other works defending the orthodox faith, commentaries on Saint Paul the Apostle, poetry, and hymns. Philospher. Orator; such an excellent speaker he was known as Chrysorrhoas (“golden-stream”). Last of the Greek Fathers of the Church, and the first of the Christian Aristotleans. Adapted choral music for use in the liturgy. Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1890 by Pope Leo XIII.

Born

Died

  • 749 of natural causes

Canonized

Patronage

Representation

Images

Additional Information

Works

Readings

Show me the icons that you venerate, that I may be able to understand your faith. - Saint John of Damascus

The saints must be honored as friends of Christ and children and heirs of God, as John the theologian and evangelist says: “But as many as received him, he gave them the power to be made the sons of God….” Let us carefully observe the manner of life of all the apostles, martyrs, ascetics and just men who announced the coming of the Lord. And let us emulate their faith, charity, hope, zeal, life, patience under suffering, and perseverance unto death, so that we may also share their crowns of glory. - Saint John of Damascus, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith

Even though your most holy and blessed soul was separated from your most happy and immaculate body, according to the usual course of nature, and even though it was carried to a proper burial place, nevertheless it did not remain under the dominion of death, nor was it destroyed by corruption. Indeed, just as her virginity remained intact when she gave birth, so her body, even after death, was preserved from decay and transferred to a better and more divine dwelling place. There it is no longer subject to death but abides for all ages. – Saint John Damascene

MLA Citation

  • “Saint John Damascene“. Saints.SQPN.com. 19 September 2014. Web. 20 September 2014. <>