October 15, 2018

Saint John, Bishop of Suzdal (+ 1373)

St. John of Suzdal (Feast Day - October 15)

Saint John entered one of the monasteries of Suzdal while a youth. For his virtuous and humble life, he was consecrated the first Bishop of Suzdal and Nizhegorod in 1350 by the Patriarch of Constantinople. At the time of his first Divine Liturgy, a great light shone around him.

Bishop John was known for his love towards the destitute and the sick, and he interceded for the poor before the princes to lower their taxes. He also built poor houses and a hospital for the sick, which he left to two devout priests. As a skilled teacher, he taught the people in language they could understand, leading souls to repentance. Often by the grace of God it was enough just for the sick to touch him in order to receive healing. The Saint was also very concerned about enlightening the pagan Mordvians with the Christian faith.

One day, during the Divine Liturgy, Prince Boris saw a majestic-looking man clad in resplendent vestments serving with the Bishop and asked him who he was. "If God has shown you this," Bishop John replied, "how dare I conceal it? He is an Angel of the Lord who, unworthy as I am, always serves with me. But so long as I am alive, tell no one of it!" Indeed the Saint disliked any reference to his virtues and said that the greatest virtue is that which remains hidden.

At one time, he was the victim of the slanders of certain envious clergymen and was condemned to exile. As he was leaving the city, he prayed, "Lord, do not set this to their account as a sin!" God struck His calumniators with blindness and they fell at the Saint's feet and asked him to forgive them. He restored their sight and the people later built a church to commemorate the event.

After the annexation of Suzdal to the Moscow Diocese, Saint John took the monastic schema and withdrew to the Bogoliubov Monastery. He lived there in seclusion and died in peace on 15 October 1373. Numerous miracles took place at his grave. His sacred relics rest in the Cathedral of Suzdal where they continue to work miracles.