Icon of St. John the Merciful – S78


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Church Feast Day 1



Egg Tempera


20th c. (Late)


Ginala, Maria


St. John was born about a.d. 550 and was the son of Epiphanius, the noble Christian governor of Cyprus.  But as he himself preached, “If you seek nobility, seek it not in blood but in virtue, for in virtue lies true nobility.”  St. John truly lived such nobility in his life.  Pressured by his parents to marry and raise a family, he did so, but they all died young.  He then regarded the whole world as his family.  He was known to be so compassionate and full of virtues that he was elected the Patriarch of Alexandria under the Emperor Heraclius, and he served as such for eight years, beginning in 611.  When the Persians invaded Alexandria in 619, he fled back to Cyprus, where he died in his own country.

St. John regarded charity as the fundamental duty of a Christian and took every opportunity to fulfill this in his life.  He also constantly urged and coaxed all Christians that he met to do the same.  This is so marked in his life that he was known at that time, and is still known even today, as “the Merciful.”  This is appropriate and inspiring because of all of the words prayed in the Divine services, “Lord, have mercy” is said the most often.