St. John was born in Florence, Italy, at the end of the tenth century. He and his father were devastated when John’s only brother, Hugh, was murdered. The man who did it was supposed to have been Hugh’s friend. Urged on by his father and by his own anger, John began looking for a way to avenge his brother’s death. He felt that his personal honor depended on it.
One Good Friday, he came face to face with the murderer in a narrow passageway. John drew his sword and started toward the man. Hugh’s killer fell to his knees. He crossed his arms on his chest and begged forgiveness for love of Jesus who died on the cross. With a tremendous effort, John dropped his sword. He embraced his enemy and moved on down the road. When he came to a monastery church, he went in and knelt before the crucifix. He asked forgiveness for his sins. Then a miracle happened! Christ on the cross bowed his head. It was as if to tell John that he was pleased with him for forgiving his enemy. John felt that his own sins were forgiven. Such a change came over him that he went straight to the abbot of that monastery. He asked if he could join the monks.
When John’s father heard about it, he said he would burn the whole monastery if his son did not come out. The monks did not know what to do. John solved the problem by cutting off his hair and borrowing a habit from one of the monks. Even his father was so impressed that he let him remain. St. John later went off to live a stricter life. He started his own community of monks.
John became a model for imitating the poor lifestyle of Jesus. He also took wonderful care of all the poor people who came to the monastery gate. God granted him power to work miracles and to give wise guidance. Even Pope St. Leo IX went to St. John to seek his advice. St. John died on July 12, 1073. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Celestine III in 1193.
“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us..”-the Lord’s Prayer