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January 24, 2018

Holy Martyr John of Kazan (+ 1529)

St. John of Kazan (Feast Day - January 24)

During the reign of Great Prince Basil, the Tatars swooped down upon Nizhni Novgorod. Many of the inhabitants were taken into captivity and brought to Kazan. Also among their number was the fearless John.

When the captives were distributed to their new owners, he was given to Alei-Shnur (in other sources Alei-Shpur, Alei-Shkur), who was related to the Khan. Being young John was well instructed in Christian teaching and received a wonderful home education. He was accustomed to the strict fulfillment of the requirements of the Christian faith - he observed fasts, did not like idleness, and spent all his time in work and prayers. For such diligence, Alei-Shnur made John his personal servant. John diligently fulfilled the duties assigned to him and patiently endured the enslavement, despite all the ridicule that the Muslims showered him with. Hoping in God's mercy, he spent nights in prayer.

Being an excellent servant, Alei-Shnur desired for John to become a Muslim. John boldly declared to Alei-Shnur that he was a Christian, and nothing would force him to change his convictions. Even the anguish to which he was subjected to force him to renounce Christ did not achieve Alei-Shnur's goal. At the same time, John not only defended the Christian faith with authority, but also denounced the false teachings of Mohammad. Seeing, on the one hand, the purposelessness of his many attempts to convert John to Islam, and on the other, the firmness with which the Martyr openly confessed Christ, and Mohammad being called a liar, the angry Alei-Shnur ordered the murder of John, who had served him so faithfully and well.

In the middle of winter the Tatars tied him up with a belt and had him taken out of town to a nearby mountain and led him to a Russian cemetery. The torturers inflicted many wounds on him and pierced his stomach with a sword. Finally, they decided to cut off his head. But the blow was inflicted unsuccessfully - the Martyr was cut only at the neck, from which he, gushing forth blood, fell unconscious. The torturers, considering John dead, returned to the city. That day there was a severe frost. For many hours John lay on the frozen ground and only woke up late at night.

Wanting to glorify His martyr, the Lord gave him enough strength to rise, and his hands were untied by himself, and he, having crossed himself and supporting his head with his hands, went to the city where there were boyars of the Grand Duke of Moscow. Coming to the boyars in the dead of night, John told them about the suffering he suffered from the Muslims. The wounds inflicted on him were fatal. Feeling he was near death, he asked for a priest to commune him with the Divine Mysteries. After communing, John spent the rest of the night without sleep in prayer and in the morning at sunrise he delivered his soul into the hands of God. Holy Martyr John of Kazan reposed in the Lord in the city of Kazan on January 24, 1529.

The body of the martyr John of Kazan was secretly buried in the old Russian cemetery in the forest, not far from Kazan (probably on the site where the Holy Assumption Zilant Monastery is now located, and where he is most venerated). In 1592, Saint Hermogenes, the future Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, and then Metropolitan of Kazan and Astrakhan (commemorated on February 17), petitioned for the canonization of the Holy Martyr John before Patriarch Job. A blessing was received for this, and the land of Kazan acquired another diligent intercessor before God.