St. John Damascene
Feast Day: December 04
Born:676 :: Died:749
St. John was born in the city of Damascus of a good Christian family. His father Mansur was the representative of the Christians in the court of the Muslim caliph.
When his father died, he became the governor of Damascus. At this time, the emperor made a law which forbade Christians from having statues or pictures of Our Lord and the saints.
St. John Damascene knew the emperor was wrong and joined with many others to defend this tradition. The pope himself asked John to let people know that it was a good thing to have statues and holy pictures. They make us think of Our Lord, the Blessed Mother and the saints.
But the emperor would not give in to the Holy Father. He continued to forbid statues to be put in public places. St. John bravely wrote three letters. He told the emperor to give up his wrong ideas.
The emperor became so angry that he wanted revenge. So he wrote a fake letter from John, which said that John had betrayed the caliph. The caliph was hurt when he read the letter and ordered John's hand that wrote the letter to be chopped off. But Mother Mary appeared and John's cut hand was healed by a miracle.
The caliph then realized that John was telling the truth and asked John to forgive him. But John decided he should resign as governor. He gave away all his money to the poor and became a monk.
He kept writing marvelous books to defend the Catholic religion. At the same time he did all kinds of humble work in the monastery. One day he even went to sell baskets in the streets of Damascus.
People who had known him before made fun of him. The man who had once been the great governor of the city was now selling baskets. Imagine how St. John must have suffered.
But he knew that the money he got from selling baskets would be useful at the monastery. He thought of Jesus, the Son of God, who wanted to be born in a stable and he felt happy to be humble like Jesus.
St. John died a peaceful, happy death in the year 749.
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