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St. John of the Ladder

VI/VII Centuries
St. John of the Ladder (c. 570/579-649) became a monk at Sinai when he was 16. He became a solitary and remained a hermit for many years in the Vale of Thola. Many monks wanted him as their spiritual father, and St. Gregory the Great requested his prayers. To fullfill the wish of Abbot John of Raithu, St. John wrote The Ladder of Divine Ascent (also called The Ladder to Paradise) to describe the way to apatheia, or passionlessness. Based on Jacob's dream, the book uses aphorisms and anecdotes to illustrate the vices to be overcome and the virtues to be cultivated as one ascends the ladder to perfection. St. John was 70 or 75 when he became abbot of St. Catherine's on Sinai. He resigned the post after four years and died, as he had lived, a hermit.

Some Orthodox read The Ladder of Divine Ascent during Great Lent, and the Church commemorates him on the fourth Sunday of the fast.

Karen Rae Keck


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