Saint John

Mystical Experience of St. John of Egypt

Saint John of Egypt, (305 – 394), also known as John of Lycopolis, was a hermit of the Nitrian Desert of northwestern Egypt.  He initially worked as a carpenter before becoming a Christian monk and living a life of solitude starting at the age of twenty-five.  John ate only after sunset and lived on a vegan diet (dried fruits and vegetables) for fifty years.

Saint John of Egypt used an analogy of iron and fire to describe (presumably his) mystical experience as follows:

“As, when ire ore is placed in fire, and the fire passes into it and becomes one substance with it, the iron partakes of the fire, and assumes its likeness and color, and no longer appears as it formerly did, but takes on the aspect of the fire, because it has become absorbed in the fire, and so they become one; so when the love of Christ comes into the soul as a living force which consumes the seeds of sin from the soul, it becomes of one substance with Him, and he with it… from the likeness of its own nature it is changed into the likeness of God… and it is absorbed in his love for all men.”

Quoted by Margaret Smith in Studies in Early Mysticism in the Near and Middle East.

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