In early life, he was married and had children, but his
wife and children soon died, after which he entered religious life.
He was amazingly generous, and never refused to help
anyone as he saw the Presence of the Lord in everyone, and therefore did
not turn away anyone who came to him seeking alms.
It is said that once a person who was not really in
need, applied for alms and was detected by the officers, but John merely said,
“ GIVE UNTO HIM, HE MAY BE OUR LORD IN DISGUISE.”
It is said that when he was young he had a vision of a
very beautiful maiden with a garland of olives on her head, who said that
she was Compassion, the eldest daughter of the Great King.
This had evidently made a deep impression on John’s mind. In his position he had an opportunity of exercising benevolence on a large scale, he soon became widely known all over the East for his love of the poor
In his life, he strove to be compassionate. He freed a great many slaves. He distributed alms to alleviate those in need, settled quarrels, helped the wronged, visited the sick three times every week, and rendered assistance to the suffering.
His Feast day is on the 23rd of January. It reminds us
to look after those less fortunate than ourselves.
St John the Almsgiver is celebrated in Catholic
and Orthodox churches.