St. John of Damascus icon (3)
Orthodox icon of Saint John of Damascus (3). Copy of an icon of 13 cent.
Commemorated December 4th.
NOTE: The sizes of the icon are not exact.
Saint John of Damascus was born in 650. He became a high official in the Omayyad caliphate despite his Christian faith. He fell out of favor when the Iconoclast emperor Leo III the Isaurian denounced him based on a forged letter that was supposedly in Saint John's handwriting advocating a treasonous act.Despite John's earnest advocation to his innocence, the caliph dismissed his plea and discharged him from his post, ordering his right hand, which he used for writing, to be severed at the wrist. According to the tenth-century biography, his hand was miraculously restored after fervent prayer before an icon of the Virgin Mary.
Later, in thanksgiving for being healed, St John had a silver model of his hand attached to the icon, which became known as Of the Three Hands.This the icon which he is shown holding. John became a defender of Orthodox Christianity against not only Islam but also but those who denied the use of icons. He wrote three treatises defending holy images. He argued that the icon of Christ can be justified based on the doctrine of the incarnation.
If Christ was truly man as well as God, then he could be shown in images. To deny this would be to deny His humanity. He clarified that we worship only God but venerate icons. The icon is honored because of the what the image represents not the physical image itself. He lived a long life in the monastery of saint Sabbas in Jerusalem writing and engaging ins ascetic practices. St John of Damascus was a theologian and a zealous defender of Orthodoxy. His most important book is the Fount of Knowledge. The third section of this work, On the Orthodox Faith, is a summary of Orthodox doctrine and a refutation of heresy. Since he was known as a hymnographer, we pray to St John for help in the study of church singing.