Icon of St. John Climacus and The Ladder of Divine Ascent

Christian Icons of St. John Climacus

Today, the Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates many important saints, including the Holy Prophet Joad, St. Sophronius, Bishop of Irkutsk and All Siberia, the Holy New Martyr Zacharias, Metropolitan of Corinth, and St. John the Silent, Bishop of Colonia. However, in this blog post, we want to tell you about John Climacus and Christian icons of this saint. Besides, it is also worth noting that St. John Climacus is revered not only by the Eastern Orthodox Church but also by the Eastern Catholic and Roman Catholic Churches. So who is this holy person, and how do Orthodox Christian icons depicting him look like?

St. John Climacus

St. John Climacus was a 6th – 7th-century monk at the monastery on Mount Sinai, which is now called the St. Catherine’s Monastery. Little is known about his life, but one thing is for certain: St. John Climacus was an author of The Ladder of Divine Ascent, an important ascetical treatise for monasticism, hence the saint’s other name, John of the Ladder. This substantial devotional text describes how to obtain spiritual perfection and salvation through ascetic virtues. It is needless to say that there are many Christian icons depicting this ‘ladder’ and monks trying to raise their souls and bodies to God.

Orthodox Christian icons of St. John Climacus

There are several types of Orthodox Christian icons depicting St. John Climacus. In most of them, he is shown as an old white-haired and white-bearded man clothed as a monk, sometimes with a crozier in his hand. Besides, religious icons usually depict him holding a scroll, a book, or a ladder that has become an essential attribute of this saint. There are also Christian icons that combine the common image of The Ladder of Divine Ascent with the depiction of St. John Climacus, thus telling the full story of this monk and his important work.

Where to find holy icons of St. John Climacus?

Some of the oldest and most venerated Orthodox Christian icons of St. John Climacus are carefully preserved in the Dionysiou Monastery on Mount Athos, the St. Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai, the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, and the Novgorod State Museum. However, it goes without saying that there are also many other beautiful examples of religious icon art depicting St. John Climacus and his Ladder, which can be found in churches and monasteries around the world.