Saint Mertius
Departure of St. John the Evangelist and Theologian

Saint Mertius

Mertius was a soldier at the military battalion called the "Black Men" during the reign of Diocletian in 298. He was accused to Diocletian for being a Christian, so, he was forced to offer sacrifice to the idols. But, Diocletian was not convinced of his sincerity and took away Mertius' belt, which signified his military rank. Then Mertius was tortured and thrown into prison where he died.

Departure of St. John the Evangelist and Theologian

On this day, in the year 100 A.D., St. John, the Apostle, Evangelist and Theologian departed.

He was the son of Zebedee. St. John Chrysostom (of the Golden Mouth) said that St. John the Apostle was originally a disciple of John the Baptist. He was the brother of St. James the Elder, who was martyred by King Herod. The Lord called him with his brother "Boanerges" (Mark 3:17), that is "sons of thunder," for their strong zeal and great faith. He was also the disciple whom Jesus loved.

The lot fell on him to go to Asia. As the people of Asia were stiff necked, he prayed to the Lord Jesus to be with him.

He went to Ephesus, accompanied by his disciple Prochorus. They embarked on a ship, but the ship was wrecked on the way and every one of the passengers clung to a plank of the ship's wood. The waves washed out Prochorus to an island, but St. John was floating on the sea for several days, until by the will of God the waves carried him to the same island where his disciple Prochorus was. When they found each other they offered thanks to God for taking care of them.

From there, St. John went to the city of Ephesus and preached the word of salvation. The people of Ephesus did not accept his preaching at first, until the day when an only child of his mother fell in the furnace of a public bath managed by her. They got him out of the fire but he was dead and his mother wept bitterly over him.

St. John went forward, prayed fervently to God, made the sign of the Cross, breathed in the child's face and life came back to him right away. His mother rejoiced and she kissed the feet of the Apostle with tears of joy in her eyes. From this moment on, the people of the city came to hear his teachings and many believed and were baptized by St John.

This caused resentment by the priests who attempted to kill him several times but the Lord protected him. After a great effort and many hardships, St. John led them to the knowledge of God and ordained bishops and priests from them.

From there, he went to other places in Asia (Minor) and converted many people to the faith.

This saint lived 90 years. They used to carry him to the gatherings of the believers because of his old age; he only gave them a very short saying, "My children, love one another".

He wrote the Gospel of John, the Book of Revelation about what he had seen in the island of Patmos, which is full of divine mysteries and three Epistles after his name.

He was with the Lord Jesus in the event of the Transfiguration. He reclined on the chest of Jesus at the Last Supper. He asked the Lord about who will betray Jesus. He was standing near the Cross with the Blessed Virgin Mary at the time of the Crucifixion and the Lord said to His mother, "Behold your son" and to John, "Behold you mother." He was the Disciple about whom Peter asked the Lord, "And this one, what of him?." The Lord answered Peter, "If it be that I wish him to be here until I come, what is that to you?".

When John felt that he was about to leave this world, he summoned his people and gave them the Body and the Blood of the Lord. He preached to them to be steadfast in their faith, then he departed from the City of Ephesus to a short distance. He commanded his disciple and others to dig a pit for him, and he went down and prayed and bade them farewell. He commanded them to return to the city and to tell the brethren to be steadfast in faith in Jesus Christ, saying, "I am innocent of your blood, for I have never left any command of God that I have not told you about, and now, let it he known that you will never see my face again, and God will reward everyone according to his deeds".

When he said that they kissed his hand and his feet, and they left him and returned to city. When the people knew what had happened, they went out to the place where the saint was, and they found that he had departed. They wept and were deeply sad. They talked about his miracles and marvelled about his meekness. In spite of the fact that he did not die by the sword, like the rest of the Apostles, he was equal to them in the heavenly glories, for his virginity and his holiness.

Glory be to God forever. Amen.