Saint John the Dwarf of Egypt struggled in the Egyptian desert in the fifth century in the monastery of St Pimen the Great (August 27). From the name of this monastery, wilderness monasteries began to be called “sketes,” in which monks pursued asceticism in strict solitude and silence. St John was a gentle, humble and work-loving monk. It was to this monastery that the young John came with his brother Daniel.
Once, St John told his elder brother that he did not want to be concerned about clothing and food, and that he wished to live like the angels in Paradise. Daniel allowed him to go to a deserted place, so that he would be afflicted. He removed his clothing, John went out from the cell. It was very cold at night, and after a week John became hungry.
One night John went back to the monastery and began to knock on the door of the cell. “Who is it?” Daniel asked.
“It is I, your brother John.”
Daniel replied, “John has become an angel, and is no longer among men.”
John continued to knock, but Daniel would not let him in until morning. Then he said, “You are a man and must work again if you want to eat.” St John wept bitterly, asking for forgiveness.
After being brought to his senses St John went to St Pimen, known for his firm and steadfast will, and having asked guidance, he promised to be obedient in all things. Testing the patience of the young monk, St Pimen gave him an unusual obedience. For three years St John carried water and poured it on a dry stick, until it became covered with leaves and bore abundant fruit. His Elder took the fruit to the brethren saying, “Take and eat the fruit of obedience.”
Later, Abba John himself became a guide of many people on the way of salvation, among whom were St Arsenius the Great (May 8) and St Thais (May 10).
St John was the author of the Life of St Paisius the Great (June 19).