Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint John Calybite, Recluse


He was the son of Eutropius, a rich nobleman in Constantinople. He secretly left home to become a monk among the Acæmetes. After six years he returned disguised in the rags of a beggar, and subsisted by the charity of his parents, as a stranger, in a little hut near their house; hence he was called the Calybite. He sanctified his soul by wonderful patience, meekness, humility, mortification, and prayer. He discovered himself to his mother, in his agony, in the year 450, and, according to his request, was buried under his hut; but his parents built over his tomb a stately church, as the author of his life mentions. Cedrenus, who says it stood in the western quarter of the city, calls it the church of poor John; Zonaras, the church of Saint John Calybite. An old church, standing near the bridge of the isle of the Tiber in Rome, which bore his name, according to an inscription there, was built by Pope Formosus, (who died in 896,) together with an hospital. From which circumstance Du Cange infers, that the body of our saint, which is preserved in this church, was conveyed from Constantinople to Rome, before the broaching of the Iconoclast heresy under Leo the Isarian, in 706: but his head remained at Constantinople till after that city fell into the hands of the Latins, in 1204; soon after which it was brought to Besanzon in Burgundy, where it is kept in Saint Stephen’s church, with a Greek inscription round the case. The church which bears the name of Saint John Calybite, at Rome, with the hospital, is now in the hands of religious men of the order of Saint John of God. According to a manuscript life, commended by Baronius, Saint John Calybite flourished under Theodosius the Younger, who died in 450: Nicephorus says, under Leo, who was proclaimed emperor in 457; so that both accounts may be true.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint John Calybite, Recluse”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 14 January 2013. Web. 19 February 2019. <>