St. John was a courtier and lived in Damascus under the rule of the Sultan, and so was outside of the reach of the Iconoclastic Emperor Leo who wished to destroy St. John, because he was writing eloquently in the defense of the veneration of icons. By intrigue from the Emperor, St. John’s right hand was cut off, but the Virgin Mary, through the icon of the Theotokos of Three Hands, miraculously put it back on and healed him. St. John wrote brilliantly in the true theological understanding of the proper icon veneration. His writings helped overthrow iconoclasm in time.
Retiring from active life, St. John went to live at the Lavra of St. Sabba the Sanctified, where he was put through severe tests of his patience and humility by his monastic elder and guide. St. John passed these tests and shone with his great love for God and his fellow men. He wrote the funeral hymns still sung in the Orthodox Church, as well as many other inspired writings to elevate the Faithful, including the canon for Pascha, or Easter. He is seen in this icon dressed as a priest monk with his hand raised in blessing. St. John went to Christ at the age of 75 in a.d. 749.