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Who was St. John?

Guild of St. John of Beverley for the Deaf St. John Of Beverley?

Who was Saint John of Beverley


His birth year and even his birth name are unknown, though his birthplace is believed to be Harpham (Humberside) in Yorkshire, England. As a young man he was given over to the care of Archbishop Theodore at Canterbury, who supervised his education, and is reputed to have given him the name of John. He trained for the priesthood and the monastic life in Kent under the direction of St. Adrian and St. Theodore. After completing his studies he became a member of the Benedictine order and lived in the Streaneshaleh monastery at Whitby, which at that time was under the rule of Saint Hilda. He was widely revered for his eloquent preaching and his ability as a teacher to make plain the meaning of difficult biblical texts. He would continue to teach throughout his entire life.


After the death of St. Eata in 687, John was consecrated Bishop and succeeded Eata as Bishop of Hexham, a district with which he was very familiar, as he had for a period led a life of retreat at Erneshowe on the opposite bank of the Tyne. During this episcopate he is said to have been diligent in visitation, considerate towards the poor and disabled, and exceedingly attentive to the training of students whom he maintained under his personal charge. His most famous pupil was the Venerable Bede, whom John ordained to both the diaconate and the priesthood. Whatever time he could spare from his episcopal duties he spent in contemplation. At regular seasons, especially during Lent, he retired to pray in a cell by the Church of Saint Michael beyond the Tyne, near Hexham. He would often take with him some destitute person, giving him food and shelter and prayer support, such that even on retreat he was still immersed in his life of Christian service.



After serving 18 years at the See of Hexham, John attended the Synod on the Nidd in 705, convened by the King of Northumbria to help decide the longstanding dispute involving St Wilfrid (the Elder). Shortly after this synod, Wilfrid succeeded John as Bishop of Hexham as part of the final settlement with the Northumbrian kings, and John became the Archbishop of York. Even as archbishop John continued his teaching and his practice of regular spiritual refreshment. He established a monastery at a place called Inderawood, then a forest, which became his favorite place of retreat. The foundation at Inderawood was later named Beverley, and through his reputation and endowment it became and remained an important ecclesiastical center. Not until old age had worn him out did he resign the See of York to his pupil, Wilfrid the Younger, and he spent the last four years of his life in the peace of his beloved abbey at Beverley.



According to the Venerable Bede, John of Beverley possessed the gift of healing. He cured a youth of dumbness, even though the boy had never uttered a single word. On the second Sunday of Lent, John made the sign of the cross upon the youth's tongue, and loosed it. Bede wrote of how John patiently taught the boy the alphabet. He taught him to say "gea," which signifies in Saxon "Yea"; then the letters of the alphabet, and afterwards syllables. Thus it was a combination of prayer, personal devotion and hard work that led the youth to "miraculously" obtain his speech. The boy was apparently bald from a terrible scalp disease also. By the saint's blessing, and various remedies prescribed by a physician whom he employed, the boy's head was entirely healed, and became covered with hair. Bede also records that John cured a noblewoman of a pain so grievous that she had been unable to move for three weeks. Several people who seemed in immediate danger of death were saved by his prayers, and Bede writes of numerous healings that he witnessed with his own eyes. Many years after the saint's death, such miracles continued around his shrine, which became a famous pilgrimage site. Julian of Norwich showed great devotion to St. John of Beverley, and King Henry V attributed the victory at Agincourt to John's intercession.


St. John of Beverley died on May 7, 721