ONE Magazine

The official publication of
Catholic Near East Welfare Association

Celebrating 50 years | God • World • Human Family • Church

Saint of the East: St. John Damascene

A defender of Christianity, John of Damascene wrote and preached against heresy in the Eastern Church.

It has been written that St. John Damascene’s life “sounds like a tale from the Arabian Nights.”

Born in the fabulous city of Damascus sometime between 680 and 690 A.D., he lived out his years under the protection of Moslem rulers. His father, a wealthy and influential Christian named John Mansur, was the “caliph’s vizier,” holding a position of trust in the Muslim government.

From early on, John’s greatest wish was to become a simple monk in a quiet monastery. He finally did achieve his goal – though certainly not as he had planned it….

Trained by a Greek monk of extraordinary intelligence, John and his adopted brother Cosmos excelled in grammar, rhetoric and logic, to say nothing of music, poetry and arithmetic. Much of John’s instruction, of course, was geared toward an expected career in goverment office, and upon his father’s death, John did indeed serve competently under several caliphs.

As public life suited neither him nor his brother, though, they both decided to become monks, and set out for the laura of St. Sabas, called Mar Saba, near Jerusalem.

Mar Saba – a very cold and picturesque monastery with a copper dome rising dramatically out of the rocks on the road to Jericho – did suit John well. There, he continued to write poetry and hymns, many of which became very famous.

In addition to his beloved poetry, John wrote widely on Christian themes, including many fiery treatises against the spreading heresy of iconoclasm, which forbade the use of pictures or images for religious purposes. Until his death at Mar Saba in 754, John Damascene continued to write and preach against this last great heresy which arose in the Eastern Church, and which lasted over a hundred years.

Truly a defender of the Christian faith, St. John Damascene was declared a “Doctor of the Church” by Pope Leo XIII in 1890. His feast day is traditionally celebrated on March 27.

Get to know us and stay informed about the impact your support makes.

Nous constatons que votre préférence linguistique est le français.
Voudriez-vous être redirigé sur notre site de langue française?

Oui! Je veux y accéder.

Hemos notado que su idioma preferido es español. ¿Le gustaría ver la página de Asociación Católica para el Bienestar del Cercano Oriente en español?

Vee página en español