Wednesday, December 4, 2013

December 4: Saint John Damascene

Russian icon of St. John Damascene


When Saint John Damascene was a little boy, all he cared about was soldiers, war and pirates. His dad didn’t think this was a very good idea, though and made John study things like music, math, and theology. John grew up to be one of the greatest writers and poets in the Eastern Catholic Church. Once, an emperor who was angry with John had a letter written that said terrible things, and signed John’s name to it. John was arrested and the penalty for this crime to have his hand cut off. That night, John knelt and asked the Blessed Mother to pray that Jesus would give him back his hand.  He fell asleep, and when he woke up, his hand was normal again, and he went on to write many more wonderful things. 
He also painted a beautiful image of the Blessed Mother holding the Christ Child out of gratitude for the favor granted to him.


St. John Damascene's icon
of the Blessed Mother
with the Infant Jesus
Here is a photo of the icon of the Blessed Mother with the Infant Jesus attributed to St. John Damascene. I tried to find a recording of Saint John Damascene's Christmas Canon, but I could only find the lyrics (a little much for young children) and sheet music (if you happen to be musical enough to play or sing it yourself). So, here's a video of the Thrice-Holy Hymn. I'm not sure if Saint John Damascene wrote this hymn or just wrote about it, but it is beautiful to listen to!

Saint John Damascene, pray for us! 

More reading for parents: