A monk in Early Christian Rome noted for his great asceticism (feast day: 4 Amshir). The story of his life is known in Greek (Bibliotheca Hagiographa Graeca 868-69) and has come down in Sahidic in only one codex (British Library, Or. 6783,6).
The text belongs to the category of individual stories, that is, those not linked to a CYCLE. Such stories could have Greek origins, as seems to be the case here, or they could be Coptic in origin.
The author of the codex presents himself as a contemporary of John, who he says was the son of a magistrate of Rome, educated by Christian parents. A monk of the akoimetai (“sleepless ones”) persuades him to become a monk. He then has his parents buy a Gospel decorated in gold (hence his Coptic name, translated “John of the Golden Gospel”) and leaves home secretly, to their despair. After he has become a monk among the akoimetai, the devil leads him into apathy, so that he returns to find his parents.
On the way home he gives his clothes to a poor man; for this reason his parents do not recognize him, and he spends a year as a beggar at the entrance to their house. They give him food without knowing him and even make him a small hut (calybe—hence his name in Greek) close to the door of the house. After ten years of very hard ascetical practice, he has a vision announcing his death. He reveals himself to his parents by mentioning the golden Gospel and then dies.
- Budge, E. A. W. Coptic Martyrdoms . . . in the Dialect of Upper Egypt. London, 1914.
- Muyser, J. “Saints étrangers honorés dans l’Eglise copte. L’Eglise de S. Jean le possesseur de l’Evangile doré à Naqadah.” Collectanea Christiana 7-8 (1954):11-18.