John of Scetis (ca. 585-ca. 675) monk
In the Egyptian desert, one of the best loved monks was John, an igumen of Scetis who lived from the late sixth to the mid-seventh centuries.
The Coptic Church, which commemorates him today, has always listed his name in all three of the anaphoras it uses to celebrate the Eucharist: those attributed to Basil, Cyril and Gregory of Nazianzus.
John, baptized Arwat, was born around the year 585 in the Egyptian village of Gebromenenosin. At the age of eighteen he entered the monastery of Saint Macarius, where he was ordained a priest and later became igumen.
He was a man who formed deep friendships, and his fame is tied to the ability he had to teach evangelical humility and gentleness to a very large number of disciples, at a time when Coptic Christians were suffering persecution at the hands of both Chalcedonese Christians and the Berbers of the desert.
During the long years he spent in exile John learned, through his assiduous attachment to God, to treat all people with mercy and compassion, and to hold fast to no more than what is most essential in the journey towards the Kingdom.
He died probably in the year 675, at his monastery of Saint Macarius, where he had guided an entire generation of monks to the fullness of monastic experience.