June 26, 2017

Saint John, Bishop of Gothia (+ 791)

St. John of Gothia (Feast Day - June 26)


Having bound the mind of the flesh Father,
You denied the flesh and in the end left it behind.

Our Holy Father John was born to a Crimean Gothic family, the son of Leo and Photini, in Partenit of Crimea. Like the holy Prophets Samuel and Jeremiah, he was sanctified from the womb after being born in answer to the fervent prayer of his parents, and immediately after being born was dedicated to God.

The Saint made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and spent three years visiting all the holy places. Then he returned to his native country. At that time the emperor Constantine Copronymos the Iconoclast (741-775) banished the Gothic bishop, and the Goths fervently entreated John to become their bishop.

John went to Georgia, which was isolated from the Iconoclast heresy. There he was ordained by the Catholicos in 758. Upon his return to the Goths he became Metropolitan of Doros (Gothia). In 787 John led a revolt against Khazar domination of Gothia. The Khazar's were expelled from Doros, and the rebels seized the mountain passes leading into the country. The Khazars however managed to retake the city in less than a year, and John was imprisoned in Phoulloi. He later managed to escape, and sought refuge in Amastris in the Roman Empire for four years. At one point he also visited Empress Irene in Constantinople, and taught her many things about the Orthodox faith.

Hearing about the death of the Khazar ruler, the Saint said, “After forty days I shall go to be judged with him before Christ the Savior.” Indeed, the Saint died forty days later in the year 791, after exhorting the people with salvific words. Immediately after his repose, a boat arrived at the shore of Amastris, which the Saint had foretold before he died, and Bishop George of Amastris processed his body with lamps and incense to the boat and placed it on the boat.

Memorial stone to John of Gothia, Ayu-Dag mountain, Partenit, Crimea

The body of the Saint was brought to the Monastery of the Holy Apostles, which he had established, at the foot of Mount Ayu-Dag, in Partenit of Crimea. Many miracles began to take place at the tomb of the Saint, for which reason crowds from the surrounding area flocked to the monastery with faith.