St. John of the Ladder (St. John Climacus)
John, the author of the "Ladder," lived during the reign of emperor Justinus the younger, who was Justinian's nephew (570 AD). When John was sixteen years old, he received experience in the general and external philosophy. After that, he offered himself to God as a most holy sacrifice. So, he ascended Mount Sinai and lived in obedience under an elder. When he was nineteen years old, he left his elder and moved to the stage of solitude, living as far as five "marks" away from the Church of the Skete on Sinai; the name of that place was Tholas. The blessed man spent forty whole years there. Every day he burnt with fervent love for God. He used to eat from every kind of food, which monks are allowed to eat, but only in small quantities. Being discrete, he did this most wisely in order to crush the horn of pride, which disturbed him with the thought that he was different from the rest of the monks, unless he ate. He used to sleep very little and even this he did so as not to harm his mind with his extreme vigils. His whole life was a continuous and unceasing prayer and incomparable love for God. He acquired every virtue and, having lived virtuously, he was made worthy by God to see great visions and foresee things before they happened. So, when his disciple slept under a rock that was going to fall on him and smash him, the saint foresaw this with the grace of the Holy Spirit. As he was sitting in his cell, he appeared in his disciple's dream and, waking him up, he saved him from death. When John reached the extremes of virtue, he became abbot of the monastery on Mount Sinai. Then, he left this transitory life and departed for the eternal one. Before he died, he wrote that book of wisdom which comprises of thirty divine and spiritual ascents, i.e. steps. This is why it is called "Ladder".