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John of Damascus

John of Damascus (a.k.a. John Damascene) (born around 676, died 749) grew up at the court of Damascus where he succeeded his father as chief councillor to the Islamic caliph Abd al Malik. He was educated as a Christian by a slave who was a Christian monk. A talented writer, he wielded his pen so successfully in battle against the iconoclasts that they slandered him before the Caliph, whereupon he was dismissed and his right hand cut off. According to a 10th-century biography, his hand was miraculously restored after fervent prayer before an icon of the Virgin Mary. John then retired to the monastery of Saint Sabbas near Jerusalem, where he continued to produce a stream of commentaries, hymns and apologetical writings, including the Octoechos (the Church's service book of eight tones) and An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, a summary of the dogmatic writings of the Early Church Fathers.

He died in 749 as a revered Father of the Church, and is now widely recognized as a saint. He is sometimes called the last of the Church Fathers.

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