This is a beautiful story of the presence of God in our lives through His Holy Saints. Saint John the Russian is one of the most renowned Saints in the Greek Orthodox Church. Being a prisoner of war and a slave to a Turkish Agha, he became famous and respected even by his Muslim master for his humility, steadfastness in faith and benevolence. His holy relics are incorrupt and wonder-working; there are evidences that this Saint particularly helps sick children and those who suffer from cancer. Saint John the Russian was born approximately in 1690 in the Ukraine. Having come of age, he was recruited into the army of Peter the Great and took part in the Russo-Turkish War (1710-1711). During the war he was taken prisoner and sold into slavery to the head of the Turkish cavalry.
The slave refused to adopt Islam and was humiliated and tormented for that by the Turks, who called him a kafir, which means unbeliever. But as the time went by, the mockery had stopped due to the Saint’s steadiness in faith, humility and diligence, and Saint John became respected by his master and the household. He worked as a groom and lived in the stables. Other slaves mocked him for the zeal with which he worked but the pious man took no offence trying to help them in their needs and comforting them when needed. For his sincere kind-heartedness, the Saint had earned the love and trust of the Agha who proposed to him to live as a free man in a separate house. But he refused, saying: “My Master is the Lord and no one is above Him. He predestined me to live as a slave in a foreign land; seems it must be so for my salvation.”
In the daytime John worked and prayed, keeping strict fast and when the night came he used to go secretly to the cave-Church of Saint George where he said the prayers of the All-Night Vigil. Every Saturday he used to take Holy Communion. Soon the Agha became rich and one of the most influential people in his province. He decided that it was due to the holy man who lived in his home. Having become rich, the Agha decided to carry out the Hajj to Mecca. During his time away, he wife was giving a dinner to the relatives and friends. When the master’s favorite dish, pilaf was being served, she told John who was serving the food: “How glad would your master be if he could eat this pilaf with us.” The Saint asked her to give him the place promising to send it to Mecca. Everybody was laughing but John’s request was fulfilled. The guests at the dinner table had thought that John wanted the pilaf for himself or for the poor. When the Agha came back he told about the miracle that had happened to him while being in Mecca. He found a fuming plate of pilaf in his locked room. And on this plate was engraved his family name as it was on every plate in his home.
News of this miracle spread quickly and everyone, even the Muslims began to call John a “veli” –a “saint.” But he didn’t change the way he lived spending time in hard work and prayers. Before his death he had become seriously ill and not having the ability to stand up he asked for a priest to give him Holy Communion. The priest was afraid to go openly to a Muslim home and he placed the Holy Communion in an apple and sent it to John. As soon as he took Holy Communion the Saint died. It was June 9, 1730. The relics of Saint John are in the Church of Saint John the Russian in Prokopi Euboea, Greece. His right hand is in a Russian Monastery of Saint Panteleimon on Athos. By the blessing of Patriarch Alexy 11 of Moscow a small wooden Church of Saint John the Russian was erected in Moscow.
It should be known that when the Greek Orthodox population was forced out of Asia Minor in the 1920’s, the incorrupt body of Saint John the Russian was taken with them to Euboea, Greece. A beautiful shrine has been erected in his honor in the city of Prokopi. Incidentally, the story that follows of the disbelieving doctor happened on this beautiful Island of Euboea, Greece not far from the shrine of Saint John. It should also be known that this miracle of Saint John took place in the 90’s.
+Fr. Constantine (Charles) J. Simones, January 4, 2014 in Waterford, Connecticut USA
A MIRACLE PERFORMED BY THE INTERCESSIONS OF
SAINT JOHN THE RUSSIAN
In the city of Limni, Evia, Greece lived a doctor whose name was Mantzoros. He was a very good doctor but he did not believe in Christ and in fact, he did not want to hear any talk about religion and the human soul. He often spoke out against religion and his opinions about Christianity were spiteful. He suddenly became seriously sick. His terminal illness had manifested itself with a great deal of pain and he was hospitalized in Halkida. This hospital determined that it could not give him the proper treatment because of the severity of his illness. He was transferred to another hospital in Athens. He was admitted to the Pantocrator Hospital located on the Third of September Street. He went through a series of tests including x-rays. These tests showed that the cancer was located in the large intestine. Prior to this sickness when the doctor’s life was rolling along normally, he would say things and do things that made it very clear how he felt about Jesus and the Saints. He was of the opinion that the stories about them were a well made-up story line that he could not believe in. The only truth about life for the doctor was sin and a prodigal living. When dark clouds would appear in his life he would try to forget them by living a sinful and immoral life. But things now had become very different for him. The dark clouds that had gathered around him lately could not be banished by living a sinful life as before.
His fellow doctors told him: “You should turn to Almighty God and have hope in Him.” He himself understood, as a doctor, that the spark of life was almost ready to burn out. The doctors of the hospital had a conference and decided that they would operate on him. Knowing what was happening to him he agreed with them that he should have the operation. His fellow doctors continued to advise him that he should put his faith in God. In the face of his serious illness this advice started to penetrate his hardened heart. On the eve of his operation, he began to spontaneously pray not only for his healing but that God would forgive him for all the years of his disbelief.
While the doctor was praying, someone knocked on his door, entered his room and interrupted his prayer. It was a handsome young man pushed open the door and entered his room. He immediately started talking to the doctor. He asked him: “What is wrong with you?” He answered: “I am very sick.” The young man answered: “You have nothing wrong with you.” The doctor responded with agitation: “My, what is wrong with you my dear friend. I have advanced cancer in my large intestine and tomorrow I will be operated on. Don’t you understand what is happening?” The young man responded: “You no longer have anything wrong with you. I have made you well.” The doctor responded: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself talking to a sick man like that? Are you being sarcastic with me?” The young man answered: “I am Saint John the Russian. Since you insist that you are sick, you can have your operation tomorrow” and he suddenly disappeared. The doctor rang the bell for the nurses to come for he was filled with consternation at this encounter. He asked the nurses if they had seen a young man enter his room. They all responded that they had not seen anyone enter his room.
The following day, the doctor was taken into the operating room for his operation. While the doctors where preparing him for the operation they heard him say that he no longer needed an operation for he was completely well. He said: “Saint John the Russian has healed me.” The doctors responded to him: “My, what is that you are saying? Our sick colleague has lost it.” The doctors insisted that he have the operation. They prepped him for the operation and when they opened up his abdomen they found that there was no tumor. The Saint had performed his miracle and the doctors were baffled at what had taken place. The sick doctor was completely healed. The doctor who received the miracle is the person who tells us this story and he tells it to everyone wherever he goes.
Translated from the Greek by Fr. Constantine (Charles) J. Simones January 2014, Waterford, CT, USA firstname.lastname@example.org
God is glorified in His Holy Saints
Δόξα τώ Θεώ έν τοίς Άγίοις Αύτού