The Eastern Orthodox Icon of John the Theologian
On May 21, the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates the feast day dedicated to John the Theologian. Saint John the Apostle is believed to be the author of the fourth Gospel that he wrote all his life. Due to the spiritual wisdom granted to him by God, he was called “Theologian.” It is for this reason that the texts of the Holy Apostle were repeatedly referred to by mystics of later centuries. It is no wonder that the Eastern Orthodox icon of John the Theologian is highly revered by the faithful worldwide. Read about it and the life of the saint in our new blog post.
John the Theologian, the Apostle of Jesus Christ
John the Theologian, or John the Evangelist (most churchmen believe this was one person, though some still question this statement), was the son of Salome and Zebedee and the grandson of Saint Joseph the Betrothed. Along with his older brother James, he was called by Jesus Christ to be one of His Apostles. Saint John was a beloved servant of Christ. It was he who was destined to write one of the four Gospels, in which he emphasized the importance of love for Christ and neighbor.
It is also worth mentioning that the Holy Apostle witnessed the Transfiguration and Crucifixion of Christ. Moreover, Jesus entrusted John with the care of His mother Mary.
John the Theologian’s preaching was accompanied by great miracles, which explains the fact why so many people followed him. He was also the only Apostle who was not martyred. Saint John died a natural death when he was about 100 years old.
As for the Gospel of John, it is an incredibly profound teaching stating that Jesus is the true Son of God and the way to salvation.
The Eastern Orthodox icon of John the Theologian
Orthodox icons of John the Theologian began to appear around the 16th century. Traditionally, in the icons, the Holy Apostle is depicted as a true theologian. For example, the well-known 17th-century Eastern Orthodox icon by Nectarius Kulyuksin, known as “John the Evangelist in Silence” (pictured), depicts the ideal image of the wise and contemplative Apostle.
The icon shows him as an old man who brings his right hand to his lips as if immersed in deep prayer or reflection. In his hands, Saint John holds the Gospel as a symbol of a theologian.
This Eastern Orthodox icon of Saint John is indeed a valuable relic that is now carefully preserved in the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.