Also known as
Doctor of Christian Art
John Chrysorrhoas ("golden-stream")
John of Damascus
27 March (Latin Church)
4 December (Greek Church)
Son of Mansur, representative of the Christians to the court of the Muslim caliph. Apparently thrived as a Christian in a Saracen land, becoming the chief financial officer for caliph Abdul Malek. Tutored in his youth by a captured Italian monk named Cosmas. Between the Christian learning of the monk, and that of the Muslim schools, John became highly educated in the classical fields (geometry, literature, logic, rhetoric, etc.).
Defended the use of icons and images in churches through a series of letters opposing the anti-icon decrees of Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople. Legend says that Germanus plotted against him, and forged a letter in which John betrayed the caliph; the caliph ordered John's writing hand chopped off, but the Virgin Mary appeared and reattached the hand, a miracle which restored the caliph's faith in him.
After this incident, John became a monk near Jerusalem. Priest. Anathematized by name by the 754 Council of Constantinople over his defense of the use of icons, but defended by the 787 Seventh Council of Nicea.
Wrote The Fountain of Wisdom, the first real compendium of Christian theology, along with other works defending the orthodox faith, commentaries on Saint Paul, poetry, and hymns. Philospher. Orator; such an excellent speaker he was known as Chrysorrhoas ("golden-stream"). Last of the Greek Fathers of the Church, and the first of the Christian Aristotleans. Adapted choral music for use in the liturgy. Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1890 by Pope Leo XIII.
676 at Damascus, Syria
749 of natural causes