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Though there is no exact date of birth for St. John the Russian, it is predicted to be between 1690-1693 as he was a soldier in the army of Tsar Peter during the Ottoman - Russian war between 1711-1718. During his military service, he frequently used the religious teachings that he received from his family as being a strict Orthodox Christian. As the war continued intensively near Castle of Azov, the Ottoman army captured him as prisoner. He was sent, just like the other prisoners to Istanbul. At that time, Ömer Esat (Eset) who served as Janissary Agha in the Ottoman army took with him to his hometown Ürgüp after the war in order to get him served as a slave.
Spending the next 12 years of his life at Ömer Esat Agha's Mansion, this local Saint was a personality loved by both Muslim and Christian demography of the neighbourhood. He lived in the Kayakapı Neighbourhood until his death (27th of May 1730).
Feeling love and compassion to humans, animals and all living creatures in nature during his relatively short life, the Saint was well known to always walk with arms crossed on his chest and to keep saying the word "Holy God". He mostly spent his life between Ömer Esat Agha's house and the Hagia Yorgi (St. Georgios) Church close to his house. He greeted all the people he saw with the name of God and wished mercy and love to be with them. St. John the Russian was a Saint of miracles. But almost all of his miracles appeared after his death. In particular, he was the Saint of those who fell into trouble, the debilitated patients, the disabled and people in need of remedy.
The Saint was given a Christian burial on 27th of May 1730 by order of the Agha, who as a token of his love and great respect for the Saint gave an expensive cloth to cover his relics. Three years later a light appeared over the tomb, which was seen by many. At the same time, the Saint appeared in a dream to his father confessor revealing that it was the will of God that his relics be exhumed, for his body was incorrupt. Until 1924 the relics were kept in the church of St. George there in Ürgüp (Procopion). When, however, the exchange of population took place between Greece and Turkey and many of the Christian inhabitants of Procopion were resettled on the island of Euboea, the relics of their beloved St. John were also moved and were received with great acclaim and veneration by the Greeks who built a majestic temple in his honor there in the village of New Procopion (New Ürgüp). To this day, streams of pious Greek pilgrims make their way to this village on the island of Euboia.
Note: Saint John the Russian’s right hand is in Russian Monastery of St. Panteleimon in Athos. By blessing of Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow in 2003- 2004 a small wooden church of St. John the Russian was erected in Moscow, in Kuntsevo district. In Novosibirsk, Russia the lower side chapel of the church of Our Lady of the Sign is also devoted to St. John the Russian.
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