Strip the Rich Right Down to their Shirts: St. John the Almsgiver and the Transformation of the City

This article considers the two ―Lives‖ of St. John the Almsgiver, a seventh-century Patriarch of Alexandria. Unlike the average life of a saint, St. John‘s two biographies are alarmingly tame, and normal elements of such literature—miracles, ascetic works, divine visions—are conspicuously absent. But careful attention to the largely-ignored Lives of St. John reveals that through the defense of doctrine and care for the poor, this bishop sought to transform the city of Alexandria and redeem it for an Empire balanced on the threshold of political and religious chaos.