Born around 579 AD, little is known of John's early life. However, his spiritual inclinations were evident early on, as he entered the monastic life when he was just 16 years old, choosing to live under the guidance of a holy elder at the Sinai Monastery.
After spending some forty years in solitude and ascetic practice, John's reputation as a spiritual guide grew. Many sought his counsel, leading him to be chosen as the abbot of Sinai Monastery. Despite the administrative responsibilities this position held, John maintained a life of simplicity, prayer, and spiritual discipline.
Saint John's magnum opus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," comprises thirty chapters, each representing a "step" towards the perfection of love and union with God. The book covers a broad spectrum of topics, from renouncing the world and bearing insults to passing through the toll-houses after death. His vivid imagery of a ladder illustrates the spiritual journey's challenges and triumphs, providing readers with practical advice for every stage.
Saint John Climacus reposed around the year 649 AD, leaving behind a legacy that has immensely influenced Christian spirituality. His "Ladder" is so influential that many Orthodox monasteries read it annually during the period of Great Lent. His emphasis on continual repentance, humility, and the pursuit of virtue serves as a beacon for all Christians, urging them towards deeper intimacy with Christ.
In honor of his enduring impact, the fourth Sunday of Great Lent in the Orthodox Church is dedicated to Saint John Climacus, reminding the faithful of the spiritual ascent they are called to make.
For those interested in exploring more about Orthodox Saints, we invite you to explore our collection here. Discover the inspiring life and works of a saint who greatly impacted Orthodox spiritual life.
St. John Climacus is celebrated by the Church both as a notable ascetic and the writer of an influential book called The Ladder of Divine Ascent. This is why he's often referred to as "Climacus" or "of the Ladder." In this work, St. John outlines the journey toward spiritual enlightenment, crucial for anyone aiming for the salvation of their soul. This book is a compilation of insights from many seasoned ascetics and from St. John's own spiritual journey. It serves as a valuable guide for those seeking truth and virtue. The Ladder's stages progressively build upon one another, leading one closer to perfection. Attaining the pinnacle is a step-by-step process, reflecting the words of the Savior: “The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (Mt.11:12).