Saint John the Silent

Pictorial Lives of the Saints illustration for Saint John the SilentAlso known as

  • John Hesychastes
  • John Sabaites
  • John Silentiarius
  • John the Silent



Son of Enkratios, a military commander, and Euphemia; his brother and other family members were advisors to emperors. John received an excellent secular and religious education. His parents died in 471, and at age 18 John used his inheritance to build the Church of the Most Holy Mother of God in Nicopolis. By age 20 he had founded a monastery for himself and ten fellow young monks. Bishop of Colonia (Taxara) by age 28; ecclesiastical duties permitting, he continued to live as a monk.

In his tenth year as bishop, his brother-in-law, Pazinikos, was appointed governor of Armenia, and immediately began meddling in Church affairs. Overwhelmed by secular matters he was not prepared for, he secretly fled to Jerusalem, praying for a place to hide from the world. Accepted as a novice at Saint Sabas monastery, working as a steward and construction worker. After four years at the monastery, he was being considered for ordination, and felt compelled to reveal his secret life to the Jerusalem Patriarch Elias. Elias permitted him to take a vow of silence, and wall himself into his cell for another four years.

Lived as a hermit in a hut built against a rock face in the desert wilderness for nine years; legend says he was protected from brigands by a lion that stayed nearby. Saint Sava convinced John to return to the monastery. His secret came out, and he lived many years at the monastery under the protection of Sava. Late in life he left his solitude to fight the Origenists. Miracle worker. Healer. Exorcist.





  • bishop with a finger to his lips

MLA Citation

  • “Saint John the Silent“. CatholicSaints.Info. 16 April 2021. Web. 27 September 2021. <>