In Alexandria, St. John the Almsgiver, bishop of that city, celebrated for his mercy to the poor. — Roman Martyrology for January 23
This saint was Patriarch of Alexandria in the 7th century. As his title implies, he insisted on putting the needs of the poor, whom he called his "masters," above all else. He not only saw to it that they received as much financial support as he could squeeze out of the church but that they be free from the onerous taxation that was often their lot. Clerical corruption was also a concern of his, and he set against it his own example of austere living.
In the first picture at right the saint sits and distributes alms while sitting with a book in the open air. This is based on his vita's statement that "every Wednesday and Friday he had a seat and two stools placed in the open in front of the church and there he sat in company with a few virtuous men, or with the gospel in his hands." Most of his images show him giving alms, and they usually give him a white beard of serious proportions. He sometimes carries a staff with a "tau" top, as in the second picture at right.
Prepared in 2017 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University