St. John of Kronstadt
The Life of St. John
Saint John was born in the village of Sura in rural Russia in 1829 to two Russian Orthodox parents. His family led a simple and impoverished lifestyle, but they carefully raised St. John and his sisters in the Orthodox Faith, teaching them to pray and introducing them to Christ and the Saints from their earliest years. He experienced learning difficulties, rarely remembering his lessons and struggling to read. However, through sincere and fervent prayer to God, St. John received enlightenment from his guardian angel. He excelled as a student for the rest of his life, and teaching became a cornerstone of his ministry. After St. John was ordained priest in 1855, he initially wanted to serve as a missionary to Alaska, but God planted in him the desire to serve his native people in Russia, who needed a holy priest and teacher as much as the non-Christians of other lands.
St. John was appointed as priest in the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Kronstadt, and after that dedicated his life in service to his people, especially the poor and needy. He visited the poorest in the city on foot, giving them money, food, and clothing – even the coats and shoes that he wore. Eventually, he built a ministry house in Kronstadt that provided free meals, elementary school education, a bookstore, religious instruction, carpentry and sowing workshops, and a host of other services. St. John also oversaw the construction of a church, a school, a sawmill and an orphanage in his native village. Most of all, St. John served the people through his prayer for them, his encouragement to them to attend Divine Services (he served the Liturgy every day), and his unwavering emphasis on repentance, Confession, and Communion for the renewal of life in Christians. Thousands of people would flock to him for blessings, counsel, and prayer, and he worked many miracles in his life through the grace of God. St. John, though married, had no children, but the descendants of his sisters continue to live in Sura and the surrounding lands.
Learn more about the life of St. John of Kronstadt here.
Feast Day: December 20
How can St. John intercede for us?
St. John is known for his self-sacrificial service to the poor and for his deep spirituality and intimate relationship with God, even though he lived what many would call a “busy” life. Pray to him to help you in your journey to union with God and to help you give of yourself for the benefit of others. You can also ask his prayers to help you learn and understand subjects.
- St. John nurtured his spiritual life and developed intimacy with God even as he served the poor and his flock for hours on end each day. How can we, as “busy” students, nurture our relationship with God and our life of prayer in the midst of our responsibilities and activities?
- St. John changed his mind about being a missionary after he saw that the people around him needed guidance and spiritual shepherding. How can you show the people around you – friends, family, immediate communities, classmates – greater sacrificial love?
- (From St. John’s journal, My Life in Christ): “In how many ways does not God rejoice us, His creatures, even by flowers? Like a tender mother, in His eternal power and wisdom, He every summer creates for us, out of nothing, these most beautiful plants. Let us enjoy them, not forgetting to glorify the goodness of the Creator, our heavenly Father; let us on our part, too, reply to His love by loving hearts.” What is something small in your everyday life that you can give thanks and praise to God for?
Learn his Troparion
As a zealous advocate of the Orthodox faith,
as a caring Solicitor for the land of Russia,
faithful to the rules and image of a pastor,
preaching repentance and life in Christ,
an awesome servant and administer of God’s sacraments,
a daring intercessor for people’s sake,
O Good and righteous Father John,
healer and wonderful miracle-worker,
the praise of the town of Kronstadt
and decoration of our Church,
beseech the All-Merciful God
to reconcile the world and to save our souls!
Learn his Kontakion
(For St. John’s repose, Tone 3)
This day the pastor of Kronstadt
appears before the throne of God
praying fervently on behalf of the faithful
to the chief pastor Christ, who has promised:
“I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it!”
Pray to him
Saint John of Kronstadt, you have taught and shown us the essentials of the spiritual life: the truths of the Church, the unity of worship, the love of neighbor, and above all to abide in Jesus Christ. We pray for your guidance, even as you guided children on the path of righteousness. We ask for your blessings, even as you blessed thousands during the Liturgy. We seek your healing of all our weaknesses and afflictions, even as you attended to each person who requested your aid.
Hear us who are devoted to the Church and yet in need of encouragement. Help us to repent of sins, and strengthen us to avoid the places and things of ungodliness. Lead us through the narrow gate: so that we do not attach ourselves to our financial status rather than to Christ, so that we do not value the opinions of the world more than the teachings of the Fathers, and so that we do not become inattentive in our morning and evening prayers.
Light our way forward in our troubled nation and in global matters, and also in our family problems and personal defects. We look to you as priest and father, for you served as a spiritual father to many during your lifetime as well as after your passing. Every generation produces new seekers and prodigals who need your help, and therefore we of this era ask for your great benevolence.
Father John, we thank you for your consideration of our needs, and in hope and expectation of your merciful aid we go forward today in joy. Amen.
Text from Akathist to Saint John of Kronstadt