John of Climacus was born in Syria around 525. The name Climacus comes from the title of a famous book he wrote called The Climax (or The Ladder of Perfection). His true surname is Scholasticus. When John was only sixteen, he decided to leave his secular life and enter into a life of solitude. There were many Christian monks at that time, so John went to a monk named Martyrius for training in the life of holiness. After the death of his mentor, John went to a hermitage where he practiced greater mortifications and studied about the saints for the next twenty years.
When John was seventy-five years old he was asked by the monks of Sinai to be their abbot. He was such a saintly abbot and so well respected for his great piety that even Pope St. Gregory the Great wrote to him and requested his prayers. The pope also sent money to build the hospital of Sinai. At the age of seventy-nine, after only four years as abbot, John retired from his duties as abbot and went back to his hermitage. He died there around 606 A.D.
Saint John authored two important works. The best known is the one mentioned above, The Climax. This was composed at the request of another John, Abbot of Raithu, a monastery on the shore of the Red Sea. The Climax made John well known in the Church, and discusses how to attain the highest degree of religious perfection. It is written in thirty parts, in memory of the thirty hidden years of Christ’s life. This work contains both parables and practical applications, primarily drawn from the monastic life.
Heavenly Father, Saint John Climacus not only left his written works as an inspiration, but his life is an example to us as well. We pray that our lives be lived in such holiness that those around us will seek our wisdom and imitate our ways to Thy greater glory. Amen.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Quirinus of Neuss (117), Martyr