Damascene John (John Of Damascus; Also Surnained Chrysorrhoas Gold-Pouring), a saint and doctor of the church, born in Damascus about 700, died near Jerusalem about 760, according to some in 780. His father Sergius, who, though a Christian, held high office under the caliphs, intrusted his son's education to an Italian monk named Cosmas. He became proficient in philosophy, mathematics, and music, besides acquiring a knowledge of theology. He won the confidence of one of the caliphs, who appointed him governor of Damascus. The circumstances which led to his abandonment of worldly honor are unknown. He liberated his numerous slaves, distributed his wealth among the poor, and retired to the monastery of St. Sabas near Jerusalem, where he spent a long period of probation before being raised to the priesthood. After his ordination, his superiors chose him to combat throughout the East the prevailing heresies. The iconoclasts, emboldened by the protection of the Greek emperors, were desecrating the churches of Palestine; but John, opposing them with voice and pen, prevented the further spread of their sect in Syria. He pursued his career of preacher and apologist throughout Asia Minor, and undertook two journeys to Constantinople, one under Leo the Isaurian, the other under Constantine Copronymus, for the purpose of attacking the heresy in its seat of power; but he gained only fresh persecutions from both princes.
On his return to Palestine, he withdrew to his solitude of St. Sabas and devoted his remaining years to the composition of doctrinal, liturgical, and ascetic works. The Greek church celebrates his feast on Nov. 29 and Dec. 4, and the Latin church on May 6. - Two things have made St. John Damascene as popular with scholars and churchmen in the East as St. Thomas Aquinas has been with the schoolmen of the West: his attachment to Aristotle's dialectics, which he was the first to popularize among Christian students, and his labors in introducing a uniform method of ecclesiastical chant. His works have a very wide range, including mental philosophy, ethics, physics, theology, moral treatises, a collection of hymns, and a treatise on sacred music. A religious romance, the earliest in Christian letters, entitled " The Story of the Hermit Barlaam and of Joshaphat, Son of an Indian King," was attributed to him, and published at Spire in 1470. The best edition of his works is that of the Dominican Lequien (2 vols, fol., Paris, 1712), republished at Verona in 1748, and reproduced in vols, xciv.-xcvi. of Migne's Patrologie grecque (Paris, 1857, 1866). For his biography, see the Vitm Sanctorum of Surius, at date of May 6, and the Bibliotheca Grceca of Fabricius, vol. ix.