February 29, 2016

Synaxarion of Saint John Cassian the Roman

On the twenty-ninth of this month [February], we commemorate our Holy Father Cassian the Roman.1


Cassian was brought to divine perception,
Divinely scented like noetic cassia.
On the twenty-ninth the high-minded Cassian died.2

Our most-venerable Father Cassian was from Old Rome,3 the son of pious and affluent parents, from whom he was given over to a teacher, and was educated in the pinncale of external philosophy. Along with this he was clever and sharp, and was fervent in earnestness and pursuit. He then gave himself over to the sacred and divine learning of the Old and New Scriptures. Thus he attained the pinnacle of divine knowledge, and ornamented his life with purity and cleanliness.

Withdrawing from his homeland, and leaving his people and service in the army (he had been enlisted as a soldier), and every superficial appearance of this life, he took up the cross on his shoulders and followed Christ. Entering a Monastery, he became a Monk, and he gave himself over to every obedience and hardy training of the body, and always gave attention to God through prayer. Wherefore he attained the pinnacle of obedience and humility, and attained the pinnacle of discernment, and so he went into quietude.

He then went to various places, and he met Saints and the most-known Venerable Ones, and the virtues of each he assembled as his own, like an industrious bee. This was to such an extent that he became a model and example to others of every form of virtue. And with his words and works, he inclined them towards his own zeal and imitation. The glorious one went to every monastery and hermitage throughout Egypt, and the Thebaid, and Nitria, and Asia, and Pontus and Cappadocia. Wherefore he became higher than his passions, and his nous was purified, and he knew just as much through experience as through the grace of the Holy Spirit, the exactitude of the monastic state, and perfection through victory over the passions. In this way he very wisely and loftily wrote on the eight thoughts and on the order of the Egyptian and Asian Coenobiums. Within these letters there is great benefit, not only for hesychasts, but just as much for coenobites.

The mere vision of this blessed one brought much benefit and spiritual pleasure, and let it be simply said, whether he was silent or speaking, it was a teaching and counsel. He was also most simple and discerning, so that the all-venerable and thrice-blessed John of the Ladder praised the Venerable One in his discourse on obedience. Thus the Venerable One lived in this manner, having attained the pinnacle of dispassion, and illumined with the prophetic gift, and greatly proclaimed everywhere, he departed to the Lord in peace. His honorable relic richly pours forth various healings to those who approach it with faith.


1. Though he is commonly known as Cassian, in his own writings and by his contemporaries he is called John. It is thus assumed that Cassian was either his pre-baptismal name or pre-monastic name. In English he is commonly known by both names, John Cassian.

2. Except in leap years, the Saints of February 29th are commemorated on February 28th.

3. Most scholars today believe he was either born in Gaul or Romania. The reason he is called "the Roman" may be because he was a citizen of the Roman Empire.

Apolytikion in Plagal of the Second Tone
In thy divine teachings thou wast a physician for souls, O Father Cassian, and setting aright the thoughts of monastics by grace, thou didst lead them to life everlasting. Wherefore, we all honor thee with love.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
Having delighted in discipline, abstinence, and continence, O divinely wise one, and having bridled your carnal desires, you were seen increasing in faith. And you flourished like the tree of life in the midst of Eden, O all-blessed, most sacred Father Cassian.