Saint John the Chozebite

Saint John the Chozebite (Hosevite), also known as Saint John Jacob the Rumanian, and Saint John Jacob from Neamţ
John Jacob icon
“Saint John the Chozebite, the son of Maxim and Catherine Jacob, was born July 23, 1913 in the Horodistea district of Moldavia. He was named for the holy prophet Elias (July 20). In 1914, his father died in the war, and his mother succumbed to a disease, leaving Elias as an orphan. His grandmother Maria raised him until he was eleven. She was a nun, so she was able to educate him in spiritual matters. She died in 1924, so young Elias went to live with other relatives. He had a great love for Christ and His Church, and longed for the monastic life.
He entered Neamts Monastery on August 15, 1933 when he was twenty years old. Here his soul was nourished by the beauty of the services, the experienced spiritual instructors, and the silence of the mountains. The young monk loved prayer, vigils, spiritual reading, and solitude, and soon he surpassed many experienced monks in obedience, humility, and patience. Seeing his great love for spiritual books, the igumen made him the monastery’s librarian. Elias gave comfort to many of the brethren by recommending specific books for each one to read. Then he would advise them to read the book carefully, make their confession, and not miss the services if they wanted to find peace.
john jacob monk left
John Jacob as a Monk (left)
His spiritual efforts attracted the notice of Archimandrite Valerie Moglan, who recommended that Elias be permitted to receive monastic tonsure. He was tonsured on April 8, 1936 and received the name John. From that time, the young monk intensified his spiritual efforts, conquering the temptations of the demons, and progressing on the path of salvation.

St John made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with two other monks in 1936, and they decided to remain there. The monk Damascene fell ill, however, and had to be taken back to Romania by the monk Claudius after eight months.
st sava
At first, St John lived in Bethlehem near St Sava’s Monastery. Romanian monks had lived at St Sava’s since the sixteenth century, and John struggled there for almost ten years. He was made librarian of the monastery, and he fulfilled this obedience for about seven years.

In 1945 St John longed for the peace and solitude of the desert, and so he went to live as a hermit. He was ordained as a priest in 1947, and became igumen of the Romanian Skete of St John the Baptist by the Jordan. Pilgrims often came to him for Confession, Communion, and consolation. In his free time he composed religious poems and hymns.
john jacob priest
Fr John Jacob as a Priest
After five years, he and his disciple went into the desert of Chozeba near Jehrico. Here they lived in asceticism for eight years in the cave where, according to Tradition, St Anna had prayed.

St John Jacob died on August 5, 1960 at the age of forty-seven and was buried in his cave. On August 8, 1980 his relics were found incorrupt and fragrant. They now rest in the St George the Chozebite Monastery.”
john jacob body
st george monastery
St. George Orthodox Monastery, or Monastery of St. George of Koziba is a monastery located in Wadi Qelt, in the eastern West Bank. The sixth-century cliff-hanging complex, with its ancient chapel and gardens, is active and inhabited by Greek Orthodox monks. It is reached by a pedestrian bridge across the Wadi Qelt, which many imagine to be Psalm 23’s Valley of the Shadow.
john jacob body 2
Saint John Jacob from Neamţ is celebrated on, 5 August, in the Romanian Orthodox Church

We learn several data on the life of Saint John from the book by Rev. Prof. Dr. Mircea Păcurariu entitled “Dacian-Roman and Romanian Saints”. So, on 23 July 1913, a child was born to the family of faithful Maxim and Ecaterina Jacob, plough people from Crăiniceni village, located on the bank of the River Prut, county of Botoşani, who was named Ilie. Six months after his birth, Ecaterina, his mother passed away, so that his grand mother grew him up, because his father Maxim Jacob was called back to the army and lost his life on the battlefield in 1916. In September 1920 he starts attending the primary school in Crăiniceni, where he turned out to be a gifted child with good behaviour. In 1924, his grand mother dies too. Alone in the world, his uncle Alecu, his father elder bother, took him to his house and looked after him till he went to the monastery. His uncle sent him to study first at “Mihail Kogălniceanu” Gymnasium in Lipcani, then at “Dimitrie Cantemir” secondary school in Cozmeni; in 1932 he passed his school leaving examination at Cernăuţi.

He joined the community of Neamţ Monastery when he was only 20 years old. The then abbot, Bishop Nicodim Munteanul, the future metropolitan and then patriarch of Romania, received him as brother in the community of the monastery monks, assigning him a job at the monastery chemist’s. Willing to find a quieter place, in June 1934, he visited the monastic settlements of Oltenia, where he remained for a while at Turnu Monastery, on Olt Valley, where he was impressed not only by the beauty of the place, but also by the old tradition of the hermitage life over here. After finishing the military stage, he came back to Neamţ Monastery, called by the former abbot, who had become Metropolitan of Moldova in the meantime. He was appointed librarian, so that he had the opportunity to read a lot and put in good order the many books and manuscripts over there. He taught Romanian language lessons for the brothers at the monastic school. On 8 April 1936, the new abbot, archimandrite Valerie Moglan (future assistant hierarch of Iaşi) tonsured him into monasticism, in the big church monastery dedicated to the Ascension of the Lord, with the monastic name of John.

Having the approval of Metropolitan Nicodim, in November 1936, the young monk went to the Holy Land together with some other monks. Once arrived there, he prayed at the holy Orthodox places of worship in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron and in other Bible localities. Then, pious John Jacob lived for two years in a cave in the Jordan desert. Afterwards, he settled in the old monastic monastery of Saint Sava, situated on Jordan Valley, founded by Saint Sava (439 – 532). Pious John lived here for eight years, doing various jobs: he took care of sick people, was a chaplain, guide, assistant administrator and librarian. After eight years, he was called to another service according to the will of God. The abbot of the Romanian church in Jerusalem, archimandrite Victorin Ursache (later on Archbishop of America) proposed the Romanian Patriarchate to ordain Pious John Jacob priest. Following the laudatory recommendations of archimandrite Victorin, our Patriarchate appointed schimonk John abbot to the Romanian skete of Jordan. He was ordained deacon and priest within the Divine Liturgies celebrated in the rotunda of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. So, pious hieroschimonk John was a pious diligent abbot in Jordan for five years, till 1952. As he thought he was surrounded by too many people and too much worry that hindered him to pray and meditate, and also sick, he decided in 1952, after spending a time in a hospital in Jerusalem, to give up the abbacy of the skete and retire to the Monastery of Saint George the Hosevite.
john jacob cave
Pious hieroschimonk John lived in a cave near this monastery dedicated to Saint Ana, in very harsh conditions of life for the last eight years of his life. Pious John Jacob passed away on 5 August 1960, in this cave, missing his country and always praying God. He was only 47 when he died, having spent 23 years in the country and the other 24 at the Holy Places. His body tired of fasting and vigil was laid in the third room of the cave for eternal rest, beside other schimonks who had lived there.

The body of Pious John remained in Saint Ana cave for 20 years. According to a local tradition, at the beginning of August 1980, the leadership of the Monastery of Saint George the Hosevite opened the graves in the cave wishing to take the remains of the Pious to the common grave. On 7 August 1980, his body, not rotten, namely his relics, was taken from the cave and brought to the monastery. It was laid in a special ebony shrine with glass above which was put then in the church.
john jacob icon 2
The Holy Synod of our Church decided, during the working session of 20 June 1992, it was a thing pleasant to God and useful to the Orthodox faithful from everywhere, and especially, to the Romanians, that this Pious John the New, the Hosevite, should be ranked among the saints. He is remembered and celebrated on the day of his passing away, namely on 5 August.

See also
john jacob icon 3
Akathistos Hymn to Saint John Jacob the Romanian
(written by Saint John Jacob’s disciple, father Ioanichius Paraiala)

Kontakion 1:
To thee, O great hermit of the Church of Christ, O pastoral adviser of the monks and offspring of Moldavia, come all ye faithful Christians to praise and cry out:
Rejoice, O pious Father John the New from Hazeva!
Ekos 1:
The Creator of Angels and of mankind, our Lord God Almighty has chosen thee from the beginning to leave all vanity of this world and with thy heart enflamed by divine love, thou ran to the salvation of reclusory, for which wondering we sing to thee:
Rejoice, thou who from childhood hast loved God;
Rejoice, for been burned by thine divine love, thou ran away from all vanity;
Rejoice, thou who rose from faithful parents Maxim and Katherine;
Rejoice, thou who didst receive the name of the Holy Prophet Elijah at thy baptism;
Rejoice, thou who wast left an orphan since childhood;
Rejoice, for Maria thy grandmother took care of thee;
Rejoice that for a while she was thy earthly protector;
Rejoice for she had taught thee in thine Holy Christian Faith since childhood;
Rejoice, for thy childhood had been difficult;
Rejoice, for it hast helped thee to gain eternal life;
Rejoice, O pious Father John the New from Hazeva!
Kontakion 2:
Having followed the schools of the time in thy village and alienated from thy acquaintances O father, thou hast kept in thy soul the yearning for the supreme serving of Christ, never taking part in childish games but always singing from thy heart to Thee: Alleluia!
Ekos 2:
When thou wert only 10 years old, thy grandmother and only earthly comforter dying, thou wert entrusted to see in the Holy Altar of the Church, a marvelous vision of Thy Resurrection of Christ our Savior, for which we sing to thee:
Rejoice, for having a pure heart thou saw Christ our God;
Rejoice for at the grave at thy parents, thou often used to go to burn candles;
Rejoice, for God hast been thy only comfort, strengthening and hope;
Rejoice, thou who from early childhood didst show to be a fervent worker of the prayer of Jesus;
Rejoice, for thy heart was not attached to vain things;
Rejoice, for thou hast taken Christ’ Pure Mother as thy protector;
Rejoice, for in thy loneliness, thou didst find quietness;
Rejoice, for in God’s will thou hast entrusted thy life;
Rejoice, O pious Father John the New from Hazeva!
Kontakion 3:
Having finished primary school in thy native village, the gymnasium then the secondary school, thou hast confessed thy thoughts to thy Elder – Abbot Eugene Laiu, wanting to become a monk and to sing unceaselesily to Thee: Alleluia!
Ekos 3:
Giving up all the vanity for Christ’s love and praying before the relics of the Holy Martyr John the New from Suceava, thou didst follow thy way to sacred Monastery of Neamt, for which we sing to thee:
Rejoice, Allhappy soul loved by God;
Rejoice, for bishop Nicodim Munteanu didst accept thee;
Rejoice, for thou wert given the obedience to the sick;
Rejoice, for thou didst help many by learning the physician’s skills
Rejoice, thou who didst wonder at thine creation;
Rejoice, thou who day and night un-ceaselessly prayed to Thy Heavenly Father;
Rejoice, for thy great zeal in reading spiritual councils;
Rejoice, thou who greatly loved thine Holy Church, thine people and the spiritual writings;
Rejoice, O pious Father John the New from Hazeva!
O Pious Father John pleasing Thee, receive from us this pious hymn and ardently pray to Allmerciful God for thy nation and all Orthodox faithful that we may be delivered from all snares, disgust, dangers and despair, and at the end of our lives intercede for us before thine Heavenly Throne, O father, so together with thee we may sing the angelic praise: Alleluia!

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