John was born on the island of Cyprus. His father was Prince Epiphanius. John was raised as a true Christian from childhood. At the insistence of his parents, he married and had children. However, by God’s providence, his wife and children passed from this world into the next. Renowned for his compassion and piety, John was chosen as Patriarch of Alexandria in the time of Emperor Heraclius. He governed the Church of Alexandria for ten years as a true shepherd, safeguarding it from pagans and heretics. He was a model of meekness, charity and love for his fellow men. He said: “If you desire nobility, seek it not in blood but in virtues, for this is true nobility.” All the saints have been distinguished by mercifulness, but St. John was completely dedicated to this wonderful virtue. Once, while celebrating the Liturgy, the patriarch remembered the words of Christ, Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift (Matthew 5:23-24), and he remembered that one of the clergy in that church had a grievance against him. He quickly left the Holy Gifts, approached the priest, fell before his feet and begged for forgiveness. And only when he had made peace with this man did he return to the table of oblation. Another time, as he was on his way to the Church of Saints Cyrus and John, it happened that he met a needy and unfortunate widow who spoke to him at length about her misfortune. The patriarch’s escorts became bored by the woman’s lengthy complaint, and urged the bishop to hurry to the church for the service, intimating that he could hear the woman’s story afterward. John said to them: “And how will God listen to me, if I do not listen to her?” He would not leave until he heard the widow’s complaint to the end.
When the Persians attacked Egypt, Patriarch John boarded a boat to escape from danger. Along the way he fell ill and, when he arrived in Cyprus, he reposed at his birthplace, in the year 620. After he entered the Immortal Kingdom of his Lord, his miracle-working relics were translated to Constantinople, then to Budapest, and finally to Presburg.
Source: St. Nikolai Velimirovic, The Prologue of Ohrid – Volume Two.
In thy patience thou hast won thy reward, O righteous Father. Thou didst persevere unceasingly in prayer; thou didst love the poor, and didst provide for them in all things. Wherefore, intercede with Christ our God, O blessed John the Almsgiver, that our souls be saved.
Thy riches and wealth didst thou disperse unto the poor; thou now hast received the Heavens’ riches in return. For this cause, O all-wise John, we all honour thee with our songs of praise as we keep thy memorial, O namesake of almsgiving and of mercy.