Bishop of Armant (feast day: 7 Kiyahk). According to the SYNAXARION of Upper Egypt, John’s parents, who were citizens of the town of Armant (Hermonthis), practiced the trade of carpentry. His elder brother Pisentius withdrew to the monastery of Tud. The excellence of the Christian religion having become clear to him, Pisentius had himself baptized with his brothers John and Patermutius. Immediately afterward John became a monk on the mountain of Armant. One day when he experienced a carnal temptation, John rolled himself in the briars until his whole body was bruised by the thorns and appeared as if lacerated. When he returned to the monastery, the holy abbot named Pisentius said to him, “Welcome to the young, adolescent Ethiopian: behold! because of your patience, your constancy, and your firmness of spirit which you have shown in the thorns, God will entrust to you the episcopate of the town of Armant.”
Shortly afterward, the inhabitants of the town asked Pisentius to become their bishop. He refused and delivered to them his brother John, whom they accepted and brought to Alexandria to be consecrated bishop there.
On his return, John baptized a number of idolators who lived in Armant. He wished to build a church, but the idolaters came to destroy the building. His miracles converted a number of pagans, who had themselves baptized. He refused presents under the pretext of ordination, saying: “Freely you have received, freely give” (Mt. 10:8).
One day on coming down from his episcopal cell, he saw some men hanging by the arms because of their refusal to pay taxes, and said, “Who has dared to hang up the image of God?” He was told that the prefect had given the order. Immediately he went to the prefect’s residence, and by his insistence succeeded in being ushered in at a time when the prefect was having a meal. The perfect asked, “Why do you dare to thrust yourself into my house?” The bishop replied, “I have been a carpenter, and if your door has been damaged I can repair it; but the image of God, if it is broken, you will never restore as it was before.”
The perfect replied, “The sovereign demands of us the appointed taxes; it is not possible for us to remit anything whatever to anyone.” The bishop said to him before leaving, “Let them go, and I myself will pay for them.” The magistrates respected him, and did not dare to commit an injustice.
The mention of the pagans who were converted leads one to place his episcopate in the pre-Islamic period. The Moir-Bryce diptych published by W. E. CRUM (1908 and 1926, Vol. 1, pp. 135f.) contains two Johns; that is why we cannot determine the period at which this John lived.
- Crum, W. E. “A Greek Diptych of the Seventh Century.” Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 30 (1908):255-65.
- . Monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes, Vol. 1. New York, 1926.