Saturday, December 03, 2011

Saint John of Damascus

Saint John of Damascus (also known as Doctor of Christian Art; Jean Damascene; Johannes Damascenus; John Chrysorrhoas ("golden-stream"); John Damascene) was born in 676 A.D. at Damascus, Syria. His father, though a Christian, was esteemed by his Saracen countrymen, and was the chief financial officer for the Muslim caliph, Abdul Malek. 

John was educated by  a captured Italian monk named Cosmas. Between the Christian learning of the monk, and that of the Muslim schools, John became highly educated in the classical fields such as geometry, literature, logic, rhetoric, and more. After his father's death he was made chief councilor of Damascus.

Saint John defended the use of icons and images in churches through a series of letters opposing the anti-icon decrees of Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, and retired to the monastery of Saint Sabas, near Jerusalem, where he was ordained priest by John V, Patriarch of Jerusalem. Saint John was anathematized by name by the Council of Constantinople in 754 over his defense of the use of icons, but he was later defended by the Seventh Council of Nicea in 787. 

Saint John of Damascus wrote “The Fountain of Wisdom”, the first real compilation of Christian theology, along with other works defending the orthodox faith, commentaries on Saint Paul, poetry, and hymns. He was a philosopher and an orator, and he was such an excellent speaker he was known as Chrysorrhoas ("golden-stream"). He adapted choral music for use in the liturgy.

Saint John is considered the last of the Greek Fathers of the Church, and he was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1890 by Pope Leo XIII.

Saint John of Damascus died of natural causes in 749 in Jerusalem.

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