Icon of St. John Climacus (Dionysiou, 16th c.) – S293


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St. John Climacus is named after the famous book that he wrote in the 7th century that deeply describes thirty steps of ascent from earth to Heaven for both the monastics and the Faithful where Christ awaits to receive us with joy.   It is unknown where St. John was born, but he entered monastic life at 16, becoming a disciple of Elder Martyrius, who lived near Mount Sinai.  Together they soon visited St. Anastsius, who prophesied St. John’s future life as abbot, and then visited St. John the Sabbaite, who washed St. John’s feet, but not that of his elder, saying that this boy was the Abbot of Sinai.  When Elder Martyrius died 19 years later, St. John lived as a hermit for 20 more years in solitude near Thola at Sinai.

St. John became an expert in spiritual life by training and practice, including proficiency in the hesychast Jesus Prayer, and so was a great light to all who came to him.  He became the Abbot of Sinai when about 75, and lived there guiding his monks wisely until he passed to the Lord in great old age.  He wrote another famous book, besides the Ladder of Divine Ascent, called To the Shepherd, which is to teach abbots how to better guide their flocks.

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Egg Tempera


17th c. (Early)


Dionysiou Monastery, Mt. Athos, Greece