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Saint John Damascene

December 4, 2021

Franciscan Media

Image: Saint John Damaskinos | unknown

Saint John Damascene

Saint of the Day for December 4

(c. 676 -749)

Saint John Damascene’s Story

John spent most of his life in the Monastery of Saint Sabas near Jerusalem, and all of his life under Muslim rule, indeed protected by it.

He was born in Damascus, received a classical and theological education, and followed his father in a government position under the Arabs. After a few years, he resigned and went to the Monastery of Saint Sabas.

He is famous in three areas:

First, he is known for his writings against the iconoclasts, who opposed the veneration of images. Paradoxically, it was the Eastern Christian emperor Leo who forbade the practice, and it was because John lived in Muslim territory that his enemies could not silence him.

Second, he is famous for his treatise, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, a summary of the Greek Fathers, of which he became the last. It is said that this book is for Eastern schools what the Summa of Aquinas became for the West.

Third, he is known as a poet, one of the two greatest of the Eastern Church, the other being Romanus the Melodist. His devotion to the Blessed Mother and his sermons on her feasts are well known.


John defended the Church’s understanding of the veneration of images and explained the faith of the Church in several other controversies. For over 30 years, he combined a life of prayer with these defenses and his other writings. His holiness expressed itself in putting his literary and preaching talents at the service of the Lord.


On St. John Damascene
On St. John Damascene (Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, 6 May 2009)
The Traditional Feast Day of St. John Damascene, Doctor of the Church (Catholic/Orthodox Caucus)
St. John of Damascus’s Critique of Islam
Orthodox Feast of +John the Righteous of Damascus, Dec. 4
Saint John Damascene[AKA John of Damascus]
St. John of Damascus


Saint John of Damascus, Priest, Religious, Doctor of the Church

Saint John of Damascus,
Priest, Religious, Doctor of the Church

Optional Memorial
December 4th

Born in Damascus (675-749), he served for a time as finance misnister to the caliph before his ordination in 726. He then dedicated himself to study and writing, producing both works of dogmatic theology as well as many hymns. One of the principal defenders of the use of images in religious worship, he is considered the last Eastern Father of the Church.

Source: Daily Roman Missal, Edited by Rev. James Socías, Midwest Theological Forum, Chicago, Illinois ©2003

Grant, we pray, O Lord,
that we may be helped by the prayers
of the Priest Saint John Damascene,
so that the true faith,
which he excelled in teaching,
may always be our light and our strength.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen

First Reading: II Timothy 1:13-14;2:1-3
Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me[Paul], in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 25:14-30 [Short reading: Matthew 25:14-23]
“For it {the Kingdom of God} will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ [He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.”]

Related Link on the Vatican Website:

BENEDICT XVI, GENERAL AUDIENCE, Saint Peter’s Square, Wednesday, May 6, 2009, St. John Damascus

Related Links on the New Advent Website:

St. John of Damascus

– Exposition of the Faith


Information: St. John Damascus

Feast Day: December 4

Born: 676, Damascus

Died: December 4, 749, Mar Saba, Jerusalem


Information: St. Barbara

Feast Day: December 4

Patron of: Artillery gunners, masons, mathematicians, miners, military engineers, stonecutters, against lightning, anyone who works at risk of sudden and violent death


Interactive Saints for Kids

St. John Damascene

Feast Day: December 04
Born:676 :: Died:749

St. John was born in the city of Damascus of a good Christian family. His father Mansur was the representative of the Christians in the court of the Muslim caliph.

When his father died, he became the governor of Damascus. At this time, the emperor made a law which forbade Christians from having statues or pictures of Our Lord and the saints.

St. John Damascene knew the emperor was wrong and joined with many others to defend this tradition. The pope himself asked John to let people know that it was a good thing to have statues and holy pictures. They make us think of Our Lord, the Blessed Mother and the saints.

But the emperor would not give in to the Holy Father. He continued to forbid statues to be put in public places. St. John bravely wrote three letters. He told the emperor to give up his wrong ideas.

The emperor became so angry that he wanted revenge. So he wrote a fake letter from John, which said that John had betrayed the caliph. The caliph was hurt when he read the letter and ordered John’s hand that wrote the letter to be chopped off. But Mother Mary appeared and John’s cut hand was healed by a miracle.

The caliph then realized that John was telling the truth and asked John to forgive him. But John decided he should resign as governor. He gave away all his money to the poor and became a monk.

He kept writing marvelous books to defend the Catholic religion. At the same time he did all kinds of humble work in the monastery. One day he even went to sell baskets in the streets of Damascus.

People who had known him before made fun of him. The man who had once been the great governor of the city was now selling baskets. Imagine how St. John must have suffered.

But he knew that the money he got from selling baskets would be useful at the monastery. He thought of Jesus, the Son of God, who wanted to be born in a stable and he felt happy to be humble like Jesus.

St. John died a peaceful, happy death in the year 749.


A Little Treatise on Mary by St. John Damascene, Doctor of the Church (Feast is December 4th)

But we, who consider God the object of adoration—–a God not made out of anything, but existing from all eternity, beyond every cause, word, or concept of time and nature —–we honor and venerate the mother of God. The cult of Mary, even though inferior to that owed to God, is superior to the honor paid to the other Saints and to the Angels in Heaven.

Because she is queen and mistress of all things, she merits the veneration suited to her greatness and unique dignity: If the memory of all the Saints is celebrated with panegyrics, who will refuse to praise the font of justice and the treasury of holiness? This is not done to glorify her but so that God might be glorified with an eternal glory.

O daughter of Joachim and Anna, O Lady, receive the word of a sinful servant, who nevertheless burns with love and places in you his only hope of joy; in you he finds the guardian of his life, not only a Mediatrix in your Son’s presence, but also a sure pledge of salvation. We today also remain near you, O Lady. Yes, I repeat, O Lady, Mother of God and Virgin. We bind our souls to your hope, as to a most firm and totally unbreakable anchor, consecrating to you mind, soul, body, and all our being and honoring you, as much as we can, with psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles.
– See more at: http://airmaria.com/category/air-maria-shows/#sthash.6daL6ntW.dpuf



The Church honors St. John of
Damascus, priest and Doctor of the
Church. Around 730 A.D., St. John’s hand
was severed at the wrist because of
his opposition to the Iconoclast Heresy,
but the hand was miraculously restored.


Catholic Culture


Daily Readings for:December 04, 2014
(Readings on USCCB website)

Collect: Grant, we pray, O Lord, that we may be helped by the prayers of the Priest Saint John Damascene, so that the true faith, which he excelled in teaching, may always be our light and our strength. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


o    Ghorabie (Short Cake)

o    Mrubbah-el-Mishmush (Apricot Candy)

o    Confectioners’ Icing

o    Strawberry Frosted Layer Cake

o    Barbarakuchen

o    Kamhié (Dessert for St. Barbara’s Day)

o    Schweinelendchen Barbara (Pork Tenderloin St. Barbara)

o    St. Barbara’s Bread

o    Stuffed Shredded Wheat


o    Celebrating for the Feast of St. Barbara

o    Celebrating for the Feast of St. John Damascene

o    Fourteen Holy Helpers

o    Nameday Ideas for the Feast of St. Barbara, Virgin and Martyr

o    Pre-Christmas Syrian Party in Honor of St. Barbara

o    St. Barbara

o    St. Barbara Branch or Barbarazweig

o    St. Barbara, December 4

o    St. Barbara, Saint of Advent

o    St. Barbara’s Cherry Twigs

o    St. Barbara’s Twig or Barbarazweig

o    Story of St. Barbara for Children


o    Advent Wreath Prayers I

o    Advent Wreath Prayers II

o    Book of Blessings: Blessing Before and After Meals: Advent (2nd Plan)

o    December Devotion: The Immaculate Conception

o    Prayer for Troops

o    Litany of the Fourteen Holy Helpers

o    Novena in Honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe

o    Prayer for a Happy Death

o    Christmas Anticipation Prayer

o    Book of Blessings: Blessing Before and After Meals: Advent (1st Plan)

o    Novena to the Immaculate Conception


o    The Age of Patrology | Sal Ciresi

o    The Doctors of the Church | Fr. Stephen McKenna

  • Advent: December 4th

  • Optional Memorial of St. John Damascene, priest and doctor

Old Calendar: St. Peter Chrysologus, bishop, confessor and doctor; St. Barbara, virgin and martyr

St. John Damascene was a learned theologian who carefully gathered together and transmitted to us the teaching of the Greek Fathers, and is thus one of the most trustworthy witnesses to oriental tradition. He also wrote many liturgical hymns still in use today. St. John Damascene died in 749. Leo XIII proclaimed him a Doctor of the universal Church.

According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Peter Chrysologus, bishop, confessor and doctor whose feast in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is celebrated on July 30. It is also the feast of St. Barbara, a virgin and martyr who died at Nicomedia about 235.

Jesse Tree ~ Abraham

St. John Damascene
John of Damascus or Damascene, the last of the Greek Fathers, was one of the principal defenders of the veneration of images against the Iconoclasts, who condemned this practice.

When John was born, Damascus was under the jurisdiction of caliphs, but Christians were allowed to hold high offices. John’s father was chief revenue officer of the caliph and a sterling Christian. He entrusted his son’s education to a monk, Cosmas, who had been brought from Sicily as a slave, and who schooled the young man in theology, the sciences, and poetry.

John succeeded his father in office, and while living at the court gave an example of a model Christian. But he had set his sights higher, and after resigning his office he became a monk at St. Sabbas monastery near Jerusalem. Here he spent his time writing books and composing hymns. When Leo the Isaurian issued decrees against the veneration of images, John took up the challenge and wrote treatises defending this ancient practice.

At this time the Patriarch of Jerusalem, desirous of having John among his clergy, ordained him priest and brought him to Jerusalem. After some time, however, John returned to the monastery and devoted the rest of his life to writing. His most important work is his Fountain of Wisdom, in which he compiled and collated the teachings of all the great theologians before him; this is the first attempt at a Summa Theologica, a summary of philosophy and theology, that has come down to us. John’s writings are a rich treasure of ancient traditions, and are held in high esteem. Pope Leo XIII declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1890.

St. John was such a great orator that he was known as Chrysorrhoas (“golden-stream”). He was the last of the Greek Fathers of the Church, and the first of the Christian Aristotleans. He also adapted choral music for use in the liturgy. His eloquent defense of Christian images has given him the title of “Doctor of Christian Art.”

A Saint A Day © 1957

Things to Do:

St. Barbara
Barbara (from Nicomedia) was the daughter of a pagan noble who worshipped false gods. Because of her striking beauty, her father enclosed her in a tower to hide her from the snares of men. Barbara vowed virginity, and during an absence of her father had a third window added to her quarters in honor of the Blessed Trinity; at the same time, she also adorned her bath with the sign of the holy Cross. Upon his return her father was so angered over these changes that a miracle was needed to save her life. She was presented before the magistrate, subjected to much torturing, and finally her own father wielded the sword that severed her head. Immediately God’s vengeance struck him dead. The holy virgin is highly honored both in the East and the West as patroness of artillery men and of miners. She is especially invoked for preservation from sudden death. She is one of the “Fourteen Holy Helpers.”

In the past, the following prayer to St. Barbara was often recited:

Saint Barbara, thou noble bride,
To thee my body I confide
As well in life as at life’s end.
Come, aid me when I breathe my last,
That I may, ere here all is past,
Receive the Blessed Sacrament!

In certain parts of Europe, the so-called “Barbara branch” is brought into homes today. It consists of a small cherry twig that is set in water and should blossom on Christmas eve. The custom is deeply Biblical and liturgical. “The bud from the root of Jesse and the flower from its root” is Jesus Christ, whom we expectantly await during Advent and who will blossom forth as a flower at Christmas.

Patron: against death by artillery; against explosions; against fire; against impenitence; against lightning; against mine collapse; against storms; ammunition magazines; ammunition workers; architects; armourers; artillery; artillerymen; boatmen; bomb technicians; brass workers; brewers; builders; carpenters; construction workers; dying people; explosives workers; fire; fire prevention; firefighters; fireworks; fireworks manufacturers; fortifications; founders; geologists; gravediggers; gunners; hatmakers; hatters; lightning; mariners; martyrs; masons; mathematicians; military engineers; milliners; miners; ordnance workers; prisoners; safety from storms; sailors; saltpetre workers; smelters; stone masons; stonecutters; storms; sudden death; Syria; tilers; warehouses; watermen.

Symbols: cannon; chalice; host and paten; tower with three windows; tower and palm; monstrance; peacock feather; torches; fortress; spears; crown; book; sword; palm of martyrdom.
Often Portrayed As: princess in a tower with either the palm of martyrdom or chalice of happy death; woman holding a tower or feather; woman trampling a Saracen.

Things to Do:


More about St. Barbara: One of the Fourteen Holy Helpers:

[CATHOLIC/ORTHODOX CAUCUS] The Feast of the Fourteen Holy Helpers
Catholic Bamberg: Vierzehnheiligen (Shrine of the Fourteen Holy Helpers in Germany)
Fourteen Holy Helpers


Doctors of the Catholic Church

Saint John Damascene

Also known as

  • Doctor of Christian Art

  • Jean Damascene

  • Johannes Damascenus

  • John Chrysorrhoas (“golden-stream”)

  • John of Damascus



Son of Mansur, representative of the Christians to the court of the Muslim caliph. Apparently thrived as a Christian in a Saracen land, becoming the chief financial officer for caliph Abdul Malek. Tutored in his youth by a captured Italian monk named Cosmas. Between the Christian teaching from the monk, and that of the Muslim schools, John became highly educated in the classical fields (geometry, literature, logic, rhetoric, etc.).

He defended the use of icons and images in churches through a series of letters opposing the anti-icon decrees of Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople. Legend says that Germanus plotted against him, and forged a letter in which John betrayed the caliph; the caliph ordered John’s writing hand chopped off, but the Virgin Mary appeared and re-attached the hand, a miracle which restored the caliph’s faith in him.

After this incident, John became a monk near Jerusalem. Priest. Anathematized by name by the 754 Council of Constantinople over his defense of the use of icons, but was defended by the 787 Seventh Council of Nicea.

Wrote The Fountain of Wisdom, the first real compendium of Christian theology, along with other works defending the orthodox faith, commentaries on Saint Paul the Apostle, poetry, and hymns. Philospher. Orator; such an excellent speaker he was known as Chrysorrhoas (“golden-stream”). Last of the Greek Fathers of the Church, and the first of the Christian Aristotleans. Adapted choral music for use in the liturgy. Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1890 by Pope Leo XIII.



  • 749 of natural causes




Additional Information



Show me the icons that you venerate, that I may be able to understand your faith. Saint John of Damascus

The saints must be honored as friends of Christ and children and heirs of God, as John the theologian and evangelist says: “But as many as received him, he gave them the power to be made the sons of God….” Let us carefully observe the manner of life of all the apostles, martyrs, ascetics and just men who announced the coming of the Lord. And let us emulate their faith, charity, hope, zeal, life, patience under suffering, and perseverance unto death, so that we may also share their crowns of glory. Saint John of Damascus, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith

Even though your most holy and blessed soul was separated from your most happy and immaculate body, according to the usual course of nature, and even though it was carried to a proper burial place, nevertheless it did not remain under the dominion of death, nor was it destroyed by corruption. Indeed, just as her virginity remained intact when she gave birth, so her body, even after death, was preserved from decay and transferred to a better and more divine dwelling place. There it is no longer subject to death but abides for all ages. – Saint John Damascene


The Word Among Us

Meditation: Matthew 7:21, 24-27

Saint John Damascene, Priest and Doctor of the Church

It did not collapse. (Matthew 7:25)

A family finds their house in danger of flooding because of local landscaping changes. To make things worse, they live in Ireland, where the most beautiful day can become a torrential downpour in the blink of an eye. Although they cannot control the weather, they learn that they can still be prepared. They buy sandbags, learn the early warning signs, and enlist help from friends. And so, even in the wettest weather, their house escapes devastation.

Today’s parable, which Jesus used to conclude his Sermon on the Mount, depicts two men who experience identical storms—but only one of them is ready for it. You see, Jesus knew there was no way for people to avoid crises. Hard times are bound to come, no matter how hard you try to avoid them. But that’s okay, because by putting into practice Jesus’ words in this sermon, we can learn how to survive every natural and spiritual storm. If his teaching forms the foundation of our lives, we won’t collapse at the first sign of trouble.

Sometimes you will receive a metaphorical slap on the cheek—snide criticism or unfair treatment perhaps. If you remember Jesus’ words about turning the other cheek, then instead of slapping back, you’ll remember God’s forgiving heart, and you’ll find the grace to react with peace instead of aggression and anger (Matthew 5:39).

Maybe the looming storm is the feeling that you may miss out on something you think you need or deserve. Rather than collapsing in anxiety, let your foundation be the promise that your heavenly Father will clothe and feed you in every way you need (Matthew 6:25-34).

Jesus promises that if you ask, you will receive (Matthew 7:7). If you keep this in the forefront of your mind, the first thing you will remember in any challenging circumstance will be how generous God is. Instead of trying to get through on your own strength, you will remember to ask the Lord for grace to overcome a temptation, for resources to perform a task, or for the energy you need to serve joyfully.

Isn’t Jesus marvelous? Not only does he teach us the right way to live; he also promises to support us in every storm of life!

“Lord, help me build on the solid foundation of your words.”

Isaiah 26:1-6
Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 19-21, 25-27


December 4, 2021