Saint John of Damascus

Patron of: Pharmacists

Celebrated: 4. December



Full biography:

Before being ordained, St. John served as a Chief Administrator to the Muslim caliph of Damascus. It is surprising, however, how few facts are known of his life. The account of him by John of Jerusalem, written some two hundred years after his death, contains a mixture of legendary matter, and it is not easy to say where truth ends and fiction begins. It is said that John of Damascus was falsely implicated in a plot to attack Damascus. The caliph ordered John's right hand cut off and hanged publicly. Some days afterwards, John asked that his hand be given back to him, which was granted. He prayed fervently to the Mother of God in front of her icon, and his hand was miraculously restored. Being grateful for this healing, he attached a silver hand on this icon, which is since then known as "Three-handed". After this event, John asked to leave his post and retired to Mar Saba monastery near Jerusalem. There, he studied, wrote and preached. John died in 749 as a revered Father of the Church. He is sometimes called the last of the Church Fathers by the Roman Catholic Church. In 1883 he was declared a Doctor of the Church by the Holy See.


What shall I call you, divine sweetly-speaking John: most radiant star, one whose sight is illumined by the lighting flash of the Trinity? You entered into the dark cloud of the Spirit; you were initiated into the ineffable mysteries of the Divine; like Moses you made things clear in the beautiful language of the Muses. Intercede that our soul may be saved. Amen