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March 30

St John Climacus - March 30

Saint John Climacus

Abbot of Sinai

(Between 505 and 579 – Between 605 and 649)

“As it is an impossibility, to have our eyes raised towards Heaven and fixed on the earth at the same time, so is it impossible that a person who is attached to the things of earth should love those of Heaven.”

Saint John Climacus

His Early Life

The exact birth year of John is not know but estimated to be between the year 505 to 579, most likely, in Syria. As a youth, he excelled in his studies and was highly regarded by his peers for his knowledge. John made such progress in learning as a disciple of Saint Gregory Nazianzen that while still young, he was called the Scholastic.

Monk on Mount Sinai

At the age of sixteen, John turned from the brilliant future which lay before him. He decided to leave the world and retired to a hermitage near the base of Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai, from the time of the disciples of Saint Antony and Saint Hilarion, had been always peopled by holy men, who, in imitation of Moses, when he received the law on that mountain, lived in the perpetual contemplation of heavenly things. Here, he was placed under the direction of a holy anchorite monk named Martyrius. For the next four years, John spent his time in prayer, fasting, meditation and discernment while preparing to take solemn vows to the religious life. Through the direction of Martyrius, John curbed his vices and worked to perfect his virtues.

Visited Saint Anastasius

Martyrius journeyed to Antioch with John and visited Saint Anastasius, a future Patriarch of Antioch. Saint Anastasius asked Martyrius who it was who had given the habit to this novice? Hearing that it was Martyrius himself, Saint Anastasius replied, “And who would have said that you gave the habit to an Abbot of Mount Sinai?”


After the death of Martyrius, John, then at about the age of 35, wished to practice greater mortifications and withdrew to a hermitage at the foot of the mountain. In this isolation, he lived for some forty years, constantly studying the lives of the saints and thus becoming one of the most learned doctors of the Church.

Every Saturday and Sunday, John went to assist, with all the other anchorites and monks of that desert, at the holy office and at the celebration of the divine mysteries when they all communicated. Prayer was his principal employment. John practiced what he earnestly recommends to all Christians, that in all their actions, thoughts, and words, they should keep themselves with great fervor in the presence of God, and direct all they do to his holy will. The fame of his holiness and practical wisdom drew crowds around him for advice and consolation.

Abbot of Mount Sinai

In the year 600, when he had reached the age of seventy-five, John was unanimously chosen as Abbot of Mount Sinai by a vote of the Sinai religious, who said they had placed the light upon its lampstand. On the day of his installation, six hundred pilgrims came to Saint Catherine’s Monastery. John performed all the offices of an excellent hotel-master. But, at the hour of dinner, he could not be found to share the meal with them.

His Book – Ladder of  Divine Ascent

John’s humility caused him to hide his talents and not presume to share them with others. However, John was induced by a brother abbot to write the rules by which he had guided his life. So, he wrote the “Scala [Klimax] Paradisi” or the “Climax” also known as “The Ladder of Paradise” or “The Ladder of Divine Ascent.” This work was a collection of sayings and examples to illustrate how to live the monastic life. From this work, he received the name Climacus, a derivative from the Latin root for climax or ladder. Each of the “rungs” represents the thirty years of the life of Christ, and is intended to be a model to attain the highest degree of religious perfection possible.

A brief outline of each of the the 30 “rungs” is below:

1. On renunciation of the world, or asceticism
2. On detachment
3. On exile or pilgrimage; concerning dreams that beginners have
4. On blessed and ever-memorable obedience
5. On painstaking and true repentance
6. On remembrance of death
7. On joy-making mourning
8. On freedom from anger and on meekness
9. On remembrance of wrongs
10. On slander or calumny
11. On talkativeness and silence
12. On lying
13. On despondency
14. On that clamorous mistress, the stomach
15. On incorruptible purity and chastity
16. On love of money, or avarice
17. On non-possessiveness that hastens one Heavenwards
18. On insensibility, that is, deadening of the soul and the death of the mind before the death of the body
19. On sleep, prayer, and psalmody with the brotherhood
20. On bodily vigil and how to use it to attain spiritual vigil, and how to practice it
21. On unmanly and puerile cowardice
22. On the many forms of vainglory
23. On mad pride and in the same Step on unclean blasphemous thoughts
24. On meekness, simplicity, and guilelessness
25. On the destroyer of the passions, most sublime humility, which is rooted in spiritual perception
26. On discernment of thoughts, passions and virtues
27. On holy stillness of body and soul; different aspects of stillness and how to distinguish them
28. On holy and blessed prayer, the mother of virtues, and on the attitude of mind and body in prayer
29. Concerning Heaven on earth, or Godlike dispassion and perfection, and the resurrection of the soul before the general resurrection
30. Concerning the linking together of the supreme trinity among the virtues; a brief exhortation summarizing all that has said at length in this book

St John Climacus - Icon - Ladder of Divine Ascent - March 30

Icon – Ladder of Divine Ascent

An icon known by the same title, Ladder of Divine Ascent, depicts a ladder extending from earth to heaven. Several monks are depicted climbing a ladder. At the top is Jesus, prepared to receive them into Heaven. Also shown are angels helping the climbers, and demons attempting to shoot with arrows or drag down the climbers, no matter how high up the ladder they may be. Most versions of the icon show at least one person falling. Often, in the lower right corner John Climacus himself is shown, gesturing towards the ladder, with rows of monastics behind him.

His Death

Just before his death, John resigned his position to return to his solitary life. John died in Mount Sinai, Egypt on March 30 between 605 and 649. His works have for 15 centuries influenced those seeking the holy life.

Born :                   Between 505 and 579 in Syria

Died:                    March 30 (Feast Day), between 605 and 649 in Mount Sinai, Egypt

Beatified:            Pre-Congregation

Canonized:         Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:          March 30

Patron Saint:     None



Saint John Climacus places great emphasis on the virtues of humility and obedience. He teaches that true spiritual progress begins with acknowledging one’s weaknesses and submitting oneself to the will of God. St. John Climacus’s reflections on the spiritual life, as presented in “The Ladder of Divine Ascent,” provide profound insights into the nature of Christian humility, and the ongoing journey toward union with God. His teachings continue to guide and inspire Christians on the path of spiritual growth and transformation.

How will you humbly acknowledge your weaknesses and obediently submit yourself to God’s will today to continue your ongoing journey toward union with God?



Saint John Climacus,
As I climb the ladder of divine ascent in my own life, I turn to you for inspiration and intercession.

Grant me the grace to cultivate humility, be my companion in the battles I face, and strengthen me in the face of temptation, that I may acknowledge my weaknesses and submit to the will of God. Help me to detach from worldly distractions, and embrace the pursuit of Your Divine Holiness.

May I, like you, strive for a deeper union with God, climbing each step of the spiritual ladder with faith and perseverance.
Intercede for me that I may experience the transformative power of God’s love.

Saint John Climacus, pray for us. Amen.

Saint John Climacus’s Prayer to Obtain the Gift of Charity:

“My God, I pretend to nothing upon this earth, except to be so firmly united to you by prayer, that to be separated from you may be impossible: let others desire riches and glory: for my part, I desire but one thing, and that is, to be inseparably united to you, and to place in you alone all my hopes of happiness and repose.”


Saint Links 

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint John Climacus

Bartleby – Rev. Alban Butler. Volume III: March. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. March 30 St. John Climacus, Abbot

Catholic Exchange – St. John Climacus

Catholic Herald – The saint who wrote The Ladder of Divine Ascent

Catholic Ireland – Mar 30 – St John of the Ladder (d. 649)

Catholic News Agency – St. John Climacus Feast day: Mar 30

Catholic Online – St. John Climacus

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint John Climacus

Daily Prayers – John Climacus

Independent Catholic News – St John Clemacus

Loyola Press – Saint John Climacus Feast day March 30

New Advent – Clugnet, L. (1910). St. John Climacus. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

RC Spirituality (Uncle Eddy) – St. John Climacus

Sanctoral – Saint John Climacus Abbot (525-605)

uCatholic – Is the ”Stairway to Heaven” Actually Real? by George Ryan

Video Link

St John Climacus – Saint of the Day with Fr Lindsay – 30 March 2023 – YouTube (St Francis Xavier – SPRING of FAITH)

St John Climacus – YouTube (Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network – USA)

Icons Explained: The Ladder of Divine Ascent – YouTube (Legacy Icons)