Posted by: anna | May 20, 2010

St John of Beverley

Icon image from St George Orthodox Information Service – no provenance given. The legend in Old English reads ‘halig iohann beof/orlicer’ – ‘holy John of Beverley’.

Today (7 May) we commemorate St John of Beverley. From Stanton’s Menology.:

The Abbey of Whitby, while under the government of St Hilda, was the nursery of many holy religious, of whom no fewer than five became Bishops of distinguished merit and holiness of life. The most illustrious of these was St. John, Bishop of Hexham, and afterwards of York. He was appointed to the See of Hexham on the death of Eata ; and not to neglect the interests of his own soul, amidst the cares of the episcopate, he prepared a place of retirement on the opposite bank of the Tyne, to which he resorted in Lent and other times with a few companions only.

While St John was Bishop of Hexham he conferred the diaconate and priesthood on the Venerable St. Bede, who was presented to him for the purpose by his Abbot, St. Ceolfrid.

On the death of Bosa, the holy Bishop was translated to York, leaving Hexham to St. Wilfrid, who was then permitted to return from exile. The sanctity of his life was attested by many miracles, some of which have been recorded by those who benefited by them, or other eye-witnesses. St. John governed the two dioceses in succession for the space of thirty-three years, until at length, feeling his strength unequal to the burden, he ordained St. Wilfrid the Younger to be his successor at York, and retired to his Monastery at Beverley. There he spent the last days of his life in great holiness, and there he gave up his soul to God, and was buried in the Church of the Minster.

His shrine soon became illustrious from the miracles wrought there, and was one of the chief places of devotion in England. King Athelstan attributed to his intercession his victory over the Scots, and rebuilt the church, which had been destroyed by the Danes. Henry V also declared that he owed the victory of Agincourt to him, and upon that occasion a synod ordered the festival to be observed throughout England. The translation of his relics by Alfric, Archbishop of York, took place in A.D. 1037, and is commemorated on the 25th October, which is now the day of his festival in England.

One of the most remarkable of St, John’s miracles was performed on behalf cf Herebald, a young cleric in his service, whose own narrative is related in detail by St. Bede (Lib. v., c, 6). There Herebald afterwards became Abbot of Tynemouth, and is himself called Saint in some later martyrologies.


service to St John of Beverley from orthodoxengland
Beverley Minster – a beautiful medieval mini-cathedral (well, only mini compared with the nearby York Minster!), full of carved musicians!

Troparion of the saint, in Tone VIThou hast been given to the faithful, O most sacred John, as a beauteous tree of holiness, bearing all the virtues like most sacred blooms, filling all the land with the fragrance of miracles and the sweet fruit of healings. Wherefore, O namesake of grace, entreat Christ God, that He save us who honor thee.
2011 update: another troparion from Acathistes et offices orthodoxes:

Ton 1 Tropaire à saint Jean, archevêque d’York, (Natalice en 721 A.D.)

Moine de Whitby qui eut pour pères en Christ,*
Les hommes de Dieu saint Adrien et Saint Hilde,*
Tu devins archevêque de la ville d’York,*
Et tu ordonnas saint Bède le Vénérable.*
Saint Jean, Bon Pasteur des brebis spirituelles,*
Supplie le Seigneur d’avoir pitié de nos âmes!

Monk of Whitby, who had for father and mother in Christ
That man and woman of God, St Adrian and St Hilda,
You became Archbishop of the province of York
And you ordained the Venerable Bede.
St John, good shepherd of the spiritual sheep,
Beseech the Lord to have mercy on our souls!

Holy St John, pray to God for us.

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