St.John,Soldier Martyr is a saint who according to the legend lived in the 1V century.Records on him are contained in the synaxarium of the church in Constantinople.St.Simeon Metaphrastes wrote a hagiography of the saint which became part of the hagiology.In this hagiography it is said that St.John,Soldier Martyr served in the army of the Emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) during the persecution of the Christians.He was commander-in-chief of the troops sent to deal with the Christians.However, since he was a Christian himself, he helped the persecuted to escape death by warning them of the imminent danger, arranged escapes,visited the prisoners in dungeons, consoled the sufferers.When the Emperor learned about it, St.John,Soldier Martyr was taken in custody and sent to Constantinople.During a few months he endured terrible tortures.After the death of the Emperor Julian he was released.He left the Imperial military service and devoted his life to serving God and people.All his fortune he spent on helping the poor and sick, rendered help to everybody in need.Having lived till old age he asked to be buried together with the wanderers.After a while the saint appeared to a pious woman in a dream and indicated the place of his burial.The relics of the saint martyr St.John were put in the Constantinople cathedral in honour of the disciple St.John the Theologian famous for miracles and healing.
The image of St.John,Soldier Martyr in the Byzantine art has not been preserved.In the old Russian art they are not numerous either.The most ancient one of the known depictions was kept in the Saviour Transfiguration church on Nereditsa not far from Novgorod the paintings of which date back to 1199.
St.John,Soldier Martyr till the middle of the XV11 century was honoured in Russia as a patron. In the early XV11 century the saint began to be regarded as a defender and protector of the warriors.This attitude became particularly relevant among the military in the VШ century when the Russian army took part in many battles. At the end of the XV11 century honouring St.John,Soldier Martyr was widespread.People turn to St.John,Soldier Martyr as a protector and healer because in his lifetime he helped many hard-up and sick people.Besides, many address him with a prayer of return of stolen and lost things because the saint once helped to return the stolen things. St.John,Soldier Martyr was particularly honoured in those churches where there were burial places of the wanderers and the poverty-stricken because the saint himself asked to be buried at a similat cemetery.
There are a few versions of depicting the saint.The most popular is his representation as a sredovek with short curly light-brown hair, high forehead, a small beard in armour and a cloak.In his hand the saint may hold a cross, a manuscript or warfare paraphernalia.This iconographic version was worked out by the painters of the Stroganov School who painted the icons commissioned by M.Y.Stroganov, whose son was named after St.John,Soldier Martyr.For example, St.John is depicted among the group of saints and miracle-workers kneeling at the feet of the Saviour on the icon “The Saviour Enthroned” painted by Istoma Savin for the local tier of the Annunciation Cathedral of Sol’vychegodsk between 1592 and 1597.
Besides, St.John,Soldier can be depicted in patrician clothes-in a cloak worn over a long hiton.Besides, there are written records that the saint could be depicted as a young beardless man.
The Church honours the memory of the saint martyr St.John,Soldier on the 12th August (30th July old style).