St John the Dwarf

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Saint Of The Day

Hermit. St John lived sometime in the 5th century. As a young man, he went into the Egyptian desert to become a hermit. He believed that in order to achieve spiritual perfection he should pray constantly. St John had a reputation for being very absent-minded. He was not interested in news of the outside world and had no sense of time. But he was greatly respected by his fellow monks for his holiness and wisdom. According to ancient texts, he helped train a former courtier, Arsenius, who became a monk, by treating him with near contempt.

According to legend, while he was a novice, John was told to water a dead stick every day. He continued to do this for three years until one day it began to sprout leaves and bear fruit. Historians think it is likely this story was invented in monastic circles to illustrate the practice of obedience.

St John died after fleeing a Berber invasion. His last words are said to have been: "I have never followed my own will, nor did I teach another what I did not first practice myself".

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