New Martyr John of Crete

The New Martyr John was from Crete, and worked as a farmer at New Ephesus (Kusantasi) in Asia Minor. He was a young man, and was engaged to be married.

On August 29, John and two friends from Crete went to a festival to celebrate the Feast of St John the Baptist. They were stopped by the Turks, and the two visitors were ordered to pay the head tax. The Cretans refused to pay, and got into a scuffle with the aga’s men. The Turks took a gun belonging to one of the Cretans, but then he grabbed it back from the Moslem. In the confusion, one of the aga’s men was killed and some of the others were stabbed.

Since John was not involved in the incident, he went back to his farm. The brother of the dead Moslem, however, wanted revenge. He knew that John was present when his brother was killed, so he had him arrested. John was thrown into prison, beaten, and was not allowed to have any visitors.

St John remained in prison for sixteen days. Then he was given the choice of saving his life by converting to Islam, or to remain a Christian and die. John stated, “I was born as an Orthodox Christian, and I shall die as an Orthodox Christian.”

Since John was an attractive young man, the kadi’s daughter became interested in him. If he were willing to convert, he could marry the girl and enjoy both wealth and position as a member of the kadi’s family. Even this was not enough to make him deny Christ.

Finally the Hagarenes grew tired of trying to convert John, and he was sentenced to death by hanging. As he was led to the place of execution, he kept saying, “Most Holy Theotokos, help me.” He also asked forgiveness of the Christians he met along the way.

St John suffered for Christ on September 15, 1811, and received the incorruptible crown of martyrdom. That night the martyr’s body shone with a bright light. After three days, permission was granted to bury his holy relics in the courtyard of the church of St George.