John the Almsgiver, St.
JOHN THE ALMSGIVER, ST.
Patriarch of Alexandria, 610 to 617 or 619; b. Amathus, Cyprus; d. there, 619. He was the son of Epiphanius, the governor of Cyprus, and Honesta. John married early and had a number of children, all of whom died in infancy. Later, as a widower and friend of sophronius (patriarch of Jerusalem), John moschus, and Leontius of Neapolis, John was elected patriarch of Alexandria by acclamation in 610 and set about reforming the discipline of the clergy and laity. He built monasteries and churches, established refuges for the Syrians dispossessed by the Persians, and strenuously urged the rich of Alexandria to participate in his work for the poor. When the imperial official Nicetas confiscated the Church's revenues for military purposes, John forced him to make restitution. When the Persians occupied Egypt, he fled to his ancestral home in Cyprus, where he died. His remains were translated several times and finally came to rest at Presbourg on Jan. 23, 1632. John wrote a vita of Bishop Tychon of Amathus in Cyprus; his own vita was written by Leontius of Neapolis.
Feast: Jan. 23 and Nov. 12 (Greek Church).
Bibliography: Acta Sanctorum, Jan. 3:108–148. Three Byzantine Saints: Contemporary Biographies of St. Daniel the Stylite, St. Theodore of Sykeon, and St. John the Almsgiver, tr. e. a. s. dawes and n. h. baynes (Crestwood, N.Y. 1996). Leontios von Neapolis Leben des hl. Johannes, ed. h. gelzer (Freiburg 1893), Greek original and French tr. in Vie de Syméon le Fou; Vie de Jean de Chypre, ed. a. j. festugÈre and l. rydÉn (Paris 1974). h. g. beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur im byzantinischen Reich (Munich 1959) 459–460. h. duckworth, St. John the Almsgiver (Oxford 1901). h. delehaye, Analecta Bollandiana, 26 (1907) 244–245; ibid. 45 (1927) 5–74, vita by Sophronius. Bibliotheca hagiographica Graeca, ed. f. halkin, 3 v. (Brussels 1957) 3:886–889.