The saint who lived in a hut for years outside his parental home

Venerable John Calabytes: overcoming the attractions of the world

venerable john calabytes

His life is a moving story that teaches us to question our ability to see a human in a poor and homeless person. It is also one of an inner struggle between one’s duty to the Lord and Heaven and the attraction of earthly joys and affections. Its hero – Saint John Calabytes “the hut-dweller” was the son of illustrious parents. He lived in the mid-fifth century in Constantinople received a fine education. He became well versed in philosophy and literature and developed a taste for spiritual books. He delighted himself in reading the word of God, and his parents hired a calligrapher to make him a copy of the Gospel. They had it bound in gold and diamonds. John kept it as a treasure for his whole life.

Saint John realized at an early age that he wanted to dedicate himself to monastic life which he preferred to the vanity of this world. One day, a monk stayed at his parents’ house on his way to the Holy Land. He confided in him his desire to become a monk and made him promise to call at his house again on his way back and take him to his monastery.

The monk kept his word, and John escaped from his home at twelve years of age and took monastic tonsure. Immediately, his asceticism, religious zeal and prayer life earned him the respect of the other monks. Yet, after six years of monastic life, he was overcome with feelings of sadness and remorse, and he missed his parents. He could not bear the thought of never seeing them again.

He went to the hegumen to ask him for his blessing to leave the monastery to see his parents, hopeful that it would help them overcome his temptations. The hegumen blessed his undertaking and returned to his hometown. Once there, he did not go back to the luxury of his past life. Instead, he pitched a tent at the corner of his house. There, he lived for three years praying to God all the time.

His father began to send him food from the house out of mercy. The servants derided him. He tolerated the heat, the cold and the elements. Finally, he had a vision of the Lord telling him that he had only three days left on earth before he would go to the Heavenly Kingdom. Wishing to bid farewell to his family, he sent a message to his mother asking her to see him in the hut and promising a rich reward from God. His mother refused to go, dismissing his invitation as a whim. She only responded to his second note, where he wrote that he would die in three days, thanked her for her alms and presented the gospel given to him in his childhood.

Knowing him by his Gospel, his parents embraced him and cried bitterly over failing to recognise him for so long. He departed to God at 25 years of age. His parents built a church above his grave and a hostel for the poor next to it.

January 28, 2022
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