Blessed John the Wonderworker

English Language Study for Russian Orthodox Learners

Blessed John the Wonderworker
(June 19/July 2)
(†1966)

Blessed John the WonderworkerBlessed John the Wonderworker was born on June 4, 1896 in the village of Adamovka in Southern Russia.  A weak and unhealthy child, he would be a tower of strength for the poor and a source of comfort for the afflicted.  Both peacemaker and protector, Vladika helped many people through his spiritual vision and prayers.  

During his early years, Blessed John read the lives of many saints and studied diligently in school.  After the Russian Civil War, he and his family relocated to Belgrade where he graduated in theology at the University of Belgrade.  In 1926 Vladika became a monk and was ordained hierodeacon in the Milkov Monastery.  Later on, he taught courses in religion at the Serbian State High School and worked as an instructor at the Serbian Seminary of St. John.

Blessed John quickly rose to the rank of Bishop and then Archbishop.  His parishioners recognized that he was no ordinary person.  Vladika led the life of a holy ascetic:  eating once a day at 11 p.m., praying constantly, serving the Divine Liturgy daily, and sleeping in a sitting position only one or two hours in the early morning.  He possessed the gift of clairvoyance, which he used for the benefit of others.  Many people were healed by his prayers.  

In 1934 Archbishop John was transferred to Shanghai where he served a large population of Russian refugees.  Upon his arrival, he restored harmony in the Church and established contacts with Ukrainians, Serbs and Greeks.  An orphanage was built that rescued 3,500 homeless street children.  During the Japanese occupation, when it was dangerous to be out at night, Vladika visited the sick at all hours, and no harm ever came to him.  When the communists came to power, Vladika organized the evacuation of thousands of people to an island in the Philippines.  As a result of his visit to Washington D.C., the United States Congress passed legislation that made possible their immigration to the United States.  

After serving in Paris and Brussels, Father John was sent to San Francisco at the request of many Russians who had known him in China.  Suffering slander and persecution, he ended a bitter controversy in the Church community.  He bore all accusations without complaining or judging others.  A San Francisco court in 1963 cleared the name of Father John and found him innocent of all wrong-doing.  The construction of the Holy Virgin Cathedral of San Francisco was soon completed.  In 1949 Archbishop John founded the parish of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Washington D.C.  

Sometime before his passing, Saint John gave hints of his approaching death.  Until the end, he led a life of righteousness in harmony with God’s laws.  

God chose to make His strength known through a weak, bent man who could not speak clearly.  Wondrous are His ways.  

You are the God Who works wonders; You have made known Your strength among the peoples.  Psalms 76:15