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Saints and Feasts of September 27

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Saint John of Réome in Gaul (+ 544)

St. John of Reome (Feast Day - January 28)

Saint John was one of the main institutors of monastic life in the West. He was born in Gaul in the diocese of Langres about the year 424, and brought up as a pious Christian by his parents, who were exemplary for holy living. At the age of twenty, he built himself a cell with a little oratory where he could devote himself to contemplation without distraction. Meditating on Scriptural examples of renunciation of the world, especially on the life of Saint John the Baptist in the desert, and on the Apostle's eagerness to follow the Lord, he left his native district and his parents without looking back and settled in a wild, forbidding spot called Réome (Reomay) in the region of Auxois. There he began to live the hesychast life like the monks in the desert of the East.

The radiance of the Grace indwelling him soon drew a crowd of disciples keen to follow his teaching on purification of the soul. Having accepted them, he began to wonder whether he were called to spiritual direction: "the art of arts and science of sciences." He visited the monasteries of the region to take counsel of the Elders and returned convinced that such was not his vocation. Accompanied by only two disciples he then retired to the Monastery of Lerins, remaining incognito there for eighteen months until a traveler recognized him and reported his discovery to the Bishop of Langres on whom Réome depended. The Bishop lost no time in writing to the Abbot of Lernins and to John himself to demand his return to his flock, bereft of their shepherd.

Moutiers-Saint-Jean Abbey

On his return, John introduced the monastic usages of Lerins, known as the Rule of Makarios, at Réome. One day, his mother arrived at the monastery intent on seeing him; but John respectfully passed her by without saying a word. Afterwards he sent one of the monks to tell her to live godly in this present world so that one day they would have the joy of seeing each other in heaven.

God, in His loving kindness, was quick to respond to John's purity of soul and to the strength of his prayer, so that miracles abounded at the Monastery of Réome for the consolation of his disciples and for the people of the region. He drove out demons and healed sicknesses by blessing bread or water. Despite the favors of kings and lords and their rich gifts to the monastery, John remained humble and abstinent. He taught his monks always to retain self-control and to avoid ambition, covetousness and the slackness which can come of dealings with worldly people. He is said to have lived to a hundred and twenty years of age. He was laid to rest at the Abbey of Réome, which later became known as Moutiers-Saint-Jean Abbey.


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