The Falling Asleep of St John the Theologian

Commemorated 26th September

The Holy and Divine Theologian, John the Evangelist was the son of Zebedee and Salome (one of the daughters of Saint Joseph the Betrothed), and the brother of James the Great. John and his brother were called at the same time to be followers of Christ and became two of the three (the other, Apostle Peter) closest disciples of Christ. They witnessed the healing of many people, the Light of the Transfiguration at Tabor, as well as many other miracles. Saint John, being the youngest of all the disciples, was also the most beloved disciple of Christ, following Him from the beginning of his ministry all the way to his Crucifixion and Burial. In the icon depicted, the Evangelist is shown leaning on the Lord’s chest at the Last Supper, a sign of love between the two.

After the Resurrection of the Lord, the Evangelist took the Theotokos to his home as his own mother. After her Dormition, he went to Ephesus to preach the Word of God. Having been denounced by pagans, he was given a poisoned drink, which failed to kill him. He was then exiled to the island of Patmos where he converted many to Christ, but most famously, where he wrote the Book of Revelations, the last book of the Holy Bible. Having returned to Ephesus, he wrote the gospel under his name and also another 3 letters, all a part of the New Testament. Saint John lived to well over 100 and outlived every single eyewitness of Christ. By this time, his message was simple: love one another. He was buried and when some of his disciples came later to farewell him, they found his grave empty, thus his body having been translated to Heaven.

The following are some additional details from another account of St. John’s life:

“While he was on Patmos, John received a letter from the Bishop of Athens, Dionysius the Areopagite (October 3) who was then ninety-nine years old. He praised John as the daystar of the Gospel and prophesied that he would soon be freed. Indeed when Trajan succeeded Nerva (AD 98), he recalled Saint John to Ephesus, to the great sorrow of the people of Patmos whom he had converted. John did not want to leave them unconsoled. Strengthened by a sign from heaven, he fasted with them for three days; then, accompanied by Prochorus, he went up into a mountain where he directed all the powers of his soul towards the Lord.

Suddenly the sky was rent by fearful flashes of lightening and claps of thunder. Prochorus was overwhelmed and fell to the ground while John remained impassible in contemplation. He heard a voice like thunder proclaiming from the height of heaven: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Prochorus transcribed this message of salvation, revealed to John as was once the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai, but this time not for the Jews alone, but for all even to the ends of the earth.

It was also on Patmos that John wrote the New Testament book known as the Apocalypse or Revelation. John saw Christ, having the appearance of a young man Whose “face was like the sun shining in full strength.” Reassuring John, who “fell at his feet as though dead,” the Lord said: “Fear not; I am the First and the Last; I am He that Lives and was dead; and behold, I am alive forevermore and have the keys of Death and of Hell. Write the things that you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter” (Revelation 1:17ff). Then in successive revelations John was shown what will happen at the end of time: the gathering strength of iniquity, the coming of the Antichrist, his warfare against the faithful and his final struggle against Christ who, in the end, will cast him forever into Hell with the Devil and his angels. It was also given him to see in his vision the violent upheavals that will take place in the world, the fiery end of all things, and the final triumph of the Son of man, the general Resurrection and the Last Judgment.” (taken from:

From the Matins service:

John, when you leaned close upon on the
breast * of divine Wisdom himself, * you drew
out as if from a well * waters of theology,
and you watered the world with them. * And
with the knowledge about the Trinity, * you
dried the ocean of pagan godlessness; * you
were an animate * pillar of both cloud and fire,
guiding us * to the heavenly possession and

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