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

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Saint 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 Saint 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 Saint Anastsius, who prophesied Saint John’s future life as abbot, and then visited Saint John the Sabbaite, who washed Saint 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, Saint John lived as a hermit for 20 more years in solitude near Thola at Sinai.

Saint 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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Dionysiou Monastery, Mt. Athos, Greece