St. John of Beverley


Continuing the series on monastic saints, compiled by Jason John Edwards, Obl.S.B.

Copied from the Beverley Minster website & Catholic News Agency:

John was one of the leaders of the Northumbrian Church following the conversion of the North to Christianity in the 620s and 630s. According to later tradition he was born at Harpham near Driffield, and he was certainly Bishop of Hexham (687-706) and then York (706-c.714).

As a youth, John manifested a strong desire to devote his life to God, and eventually left his native Yorkshire and traveled to Kent where he studied at the famous ecclesiastical school of St. Theodore, archbishop of Canterbury.

He returned to Yorkshire upon the completion of his studies and joined a monastery where he devoted himself to contemplation. He was called out of his monastic seclusion to be consecrated as bishop of Hexham in 687, a see he occupied for 18 years while still managing to devote time to contemplation and the study of Scripture.

With the death of St. Bosa, archbishop of York, John was transferred to York and served there until his retirement from ill health in 717. He spent his last four years in a monastery that he built at Beverley, in a secluded spot called by Bede Inderawuda, ‘in the wood of Deira’ (an old name for East Yorkshire).

John was renowned for the miracles that he performed, both during his life and those that took place after his death. Most famously, he cured a young man who was dumb and had reportedly never spoken a word in his life, and obtained from him the ability to speak. He took the young man under his wing and patiently taught him the alphabet and the fundamentals of the language.

St. John died in Beverley on May 7, 721. After his death, owing to the many miracles that occurred through his intercession, his burial site at Beverley became one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in England. He was canonized by Pope Benedict IX in 1037, and by 1377 Beverley was considered one of the dozen largest towns in England.

Both the renowned English mystic, Julian of Norwich, and the martyred bishop, St. John Fisher, who was from Beverley, had a great devotion to St. John.

The cult of John, like all other saints, was abolished by Henry VIII, who robbed and destroyed his splendid tomb and shrine, but Beverley did not forget what it owed to John. His bones, rediscovered in 1664, were re-interred in their present tomb between the nave choir stalls, and his main Feast on 7th May is once again a ‘red-letter day’.

Quire & Sanctuary at Beverley Minster

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