Synaxis - Saint John the TheologianJohn the Theologian, the divine apostle and evangelist, the beloved disciple of the Lord, was born in Bethsaida of the Galilee. He was translated to the Lord, while preaching the word of God at Ephesus, in deep old age during the days of Emperor Trajan (98-117). When the blessed John was about to depart from this present life, to that which is perpetual and eternal, he foreknew it by the indwelling of divine grace. He took his disciples and went outside of the city of Ephesus. John, according to Prochoros his disciple, had assembled seven of his disciples: Prochoros and six others. John said to them, “Take spades in your hands and follow me.” They followed him outside the city to a certain place, where he said, “Sit down.” He then went a little apart from them to where it was quiet and began to pray. It was very early in the morning; the sun had not quite risen. After his prayer, he said to them, “Dig with your spades a cross-shaped trench as long as I am tall.” This was done while the evangelist prayed. After he had finished his prayer, he set himself down in the trench that had been dug. John then said to Prochoros, “My son, thou shalt go to Jerusalem. That is where thou must end thy days.” The evangelist then gave them instructions and embraced them, saying, “Take some earth, my mother earth, and cover me.” The disciple embraced them again and, taking some earth, covered him only up to his knees. Once more, he embraced them, saying, “Take some more earth and cover me up to the neck.” So they embraced him again and then took some more earth and covered him up to his neck. Then he said to them, “Bring a thin veil and place it on my face, and embrace me again for the last time, for you shall not see me any longer in this life.” So they, stricken with grief, embraced the apostle again. As he was sending us off in peace, the disciples, lamenting bitterly, covered his whole body. The sun rose just then, and he surrendered his spirit.

The disciples returned to the city and were asked, “Where is your teacher?” So they explained what had just occurred in great detail. The Ephesians begged them that they show them the site. They, therefore, went back to the grave with the brethren, but John was not there. Only his shoes were left behind. Then they remembered the words of the Lord to the Apostle Peter, ‘If I wish him to tarry while I am coming, what is that to thee [Jn. 21:22]?’ And they all glorified God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, to Whom is due glory, honour, and worship, unto the ages of ages. Amen. Each year, on the 8th day of May, the grave of the saint was decorated with roses.

Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church, May. Holy Apostles Convent, 2006.