How a Russian saint ‘flew’ on a ‘demon’

Public domain
In the Vladychny Chamber of the Novgorod Kremlin, unusual paintings have been preserved - a saint sitting on a horse. Such an image can also be found on the icons of John of Novgorod. His life tells how he once “traveled on a demon in the guise of a horse from Novgorod to Jerusalem”.

Archbishop John lived in Veliky Novgorod in the 12th century. One day, while praying, he heard strange sounds coming from the basin: he crossed it and immediately saw that a demon was hiding there, who wanted to frighten the priest. John agreed to let him go, but first he ordered him to be taken to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The demon had no choice but to obey and turn into a horse. Once there, the Novgorod bishop went to the Church of the Resurrection to pray - at that moment, the doors, which had been closed until then, opened before him and candles began to shine near the Holy Sepulcher.

When the demon brought the archbishop back to Novgorod, he asked him not to tell anyone about his disgrace, otherwise he would arrange for John to be considered a fornicator. He banished him with the sign of the cross and told the story of the flight on the demon during one of his conversations with parishioners. The unclean spirit became angry and began to do mischief: he cast a fog - and visitors saw in the cell of the archbishop either women's jewelry or shoes. And, one day,he himself turned into a girl and ran out of his room, so that people thought that the clergyman was really sinful.

The Novgorodians, suspecting John of fornication, seized him and put him on a raft that would carry him out of the city. But, it sailed against the current, up the Volkhov River. Then, the locals realized how wrong they were and began to ask the saint for forgiveness. John forgave the parishioners and returned to the city. A stone cross was erected on the spot where the raft came to shore.

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