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St. John the Much-Suffering is a saint who fought industrial-strength sexual temptation for decades and WON in every sense of the term.
His life reads:
Venerable John the Long-Suffering of the Kiev Near Caves
Commemorated on July 18
St John the Much-Suffering pursued asceticism at the Kiev Caves Lavra, accepting many sorrows for the sake of virginity.
The ascetic recalled that from the time of his youth he had suffered much, tormented by fleshly lust, and nothing could deliver him from it, neither hunger nor thirst nor heavy chains. He then went into the cave where the relics of St Anthony rested, and he fervently prayed to the holy Abba. After a day and a night the much-suffering John heard a voice: “John! It is necessary for you to become a recluse, in order to weaken the vexation by silence and seclusion, and the Lord shall help you by the prayers of His monastic saints.” The saint settled into the cave from that time, and only after thirty years did he conquer the fleshly passions.
Tense and fierce was the struggle upon the thorny way on which the monk went to victory. Sometimes the desire took hold of him to forsake his seclusion, but then he resolved on still greater effort. The holy warrior of Christ dug out a pit and with the onset of Great Lent he climbed into it, and he covered himself up to the shoulders with ground. He spent the whole of Lent in such a position, but the burning of his former passions did not leave him. The enemy of salvation brought terror upon the ascetic, wishing to expel him from the cave: a fearsome serpent, breathing fire and sparks, tried to swallow the saint. For several days these evil doings continued.
On the night of the Resurrection of Christ the serpent seized the head of the monk in its jaws. Then St John cried out from the depths of his heart: “O Lord my God and my Savior! Why have You forsaken me? Have mercy upon me, only Lover of Mankind; deliver me from my foul iniquity, so that I an not trapped in the snares of the Evil one. Deliver me from the mouth of my enemy: send down a flash of lightning and drive it away.” Suddenly a bolt of lightning flashed, and the serpent vanished. A Divine light shone upon the ascetic, and a Voice was heard: “John! Here is help for you. Be attentive from now on, that nothing worse happen to you, and that you do not suffer in the age to come.”
The saint prostrated himself and said: “Lord! Why did You leave me for so long in torment?” “I tried you according to the power of your endurance,” was the answer. “I brought upon you temptation, so that you might be purified like gold. It is to the strong and powerful servants that a master assigns the heavy work, and the easy tasks to the infirm and to the weak. Therefore pray to the one buried here (Moses the Hungarian), he can help you in this struggle, for he did greater deeds than Joseph the Fair” (March 31). The monk died in the year 1160, having acquired grace against profligate passions. His holy relics rest in the Caves of St Anthony.
We pray to St John for deliverance from sexual impurity.
I have had a great devotion to St. John, enough that I commissioned the icon pictured, not only so that I would have the icon pictured (and after it touched the relics of the singularly triumphant St. Mary of Egypt (life story, icon) and St. John’s own relics.
But I asked and received permission to show St. John the Much-Suffering from my website, and so this page has a copy of the icon, which you can see by scrolling up. There are two buttons, “BIGGER” and “smaller”, and you can use them to adjust the size, then print the icon out and attach it to a board.
I apologize for the crudity of this method, but St. John is a treasure, I think an icon of him has been needed since long before I placed my order, and he is particularly relevant now.
St. John the Much-Suffering is a powerful intercessor for praying for your own struggles.
St. John the Much-Suffering is also a powerful intercessor for praying for others who are tempted along with praying, in the spirit of “I am the chief of sinners,” for mercy and one’s own purity.
(I’m also sorry that I am doing this without profit to the Skete, even if I have permission; perhaps I am doing what I can with what consent I received… perhaps those struggling over temptations might purchase their icons of St. Mary of Egypt, also a powerful intercessor?)
Triumph over powerful temptation is possible!