Commemorated on January 15
The Monk John the
Tent-Dweller was the son of rich and illustrious parents living in
Constantinople during the V Century, and he received a fine education. He loved
to read spiritual books, and having perceived the vanity of secular life, he
preferred "rather than the broad path one that was narrow and infirm and
extremely rigorous". Having persuaded his parents to give him a Gospel, he
set out secretly to Bithynia. At the monastery "Unceasing Vigilance"
he received monastic tonsure. The young monk began to asceticise with zeal,
astonishing his brethren with unceasing prayer, humble obedience, strict
abstinence and perseverance at work.
After six years he
began to undergo temptations: thoughts about his parents, about their love and
fondness, about their sorrow – all this began to overtake the young ascetic.
Saint John disclosed
his situation to the hegumen and he asked to be released from the monastery,
and he besought the brethren not to forget him in their prayers, hoping that by
their prayers he would with the help of God, both see his parents and overcome
the snares of the devil. The hegumen gave him his blessing.
Saint John returned
to Constantinople in the clothes of a beggar, and known to no one. He settled
at the gates of his parental home. The parents sent him food from their table,
for the sake of Christ. For three years, oppressed and insulted, he lived in a
tent (hut), enduring cold and frost, unceasingly conversing with the Lord and
the holy Angels. Always with him was the Gospel, given him by his parents, and
from which he unceasingly gathered out sayings of life eternal. Before his
death the Lord appeared in a vision to the monk, revealing that the end of his
sorrows was approaching and that after three days he would be taken up into the
Only then did the
saint show his parents the Gospel, which they had given him shortly before he
had left his parental home. The parents recognised their son. With tears of joy
they hugged him simultaneously with tears of sorrow, in that he had endured
privation for so long at the very gates of his parental home. Saint John gave
final instructions to his parents to bury him on the spot where stood his tent,
and to put in the grave the beggar's rags that he wore during life.
The saint died in the
mid V Century, when he was not yet 25 years of age. On the place of his burial
the parents built a church to God and alongside it an house of hospitality for
strangers. In the XII Century the head of the saint was taken by Crusaders to
Besacon (in France), and the other relics of the saint were taken to Rome.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.