Saint John Jacob from Neamţ is celebrated on, 5 August, in the Romanian Orthodox Church
We learn several data on the life of Saint John from the book by Rev. Prof. Dr. Mircea Păcurariu entitled “Dacian-Roman and Romanian Saints”. So, on 23 July 1913, a child was born to the family of faithful Maxim and Ecaterina Jacob, plough people from Crăiniceni village, located on the bank of the River Prut, county of Botoşani, who was named Ilie. Six months after his birth, Ecaterina, his mother passed away, so that his grand mother grew him up, because his father Maxim Jacob was called back to the army and lost his life on the battlefield in 1916. In September 1920 he starts attending the primary school in Crăiniceni, where he turned out to be a gifted child with good behaviour. In 1924, his grand mother dies too. Alone in the world, his uncle Alecu, his father elder bother, took him to his house and looked after him till he went to the monastery. His uncle sent him to study first at “Mihail Kogălniceanu” Gymnasium in Lipcani, then at “Dimitrie Cantemir” secondary school in Cozmeni; in 1932 he passed his school leaving examination at Cernăuţi.
He joined the community of Neamţ Monastery when he was only 20 years old. The then abbot, Bishop Nicodim Munteanul, the future metropolitan and then patriarch of Romania, received him as brother in the community of the monastery monks, assigning him a job at the monastery chemist’s. Willing to find a quieter place, in June 1934, he visited the monastic settlements of Oltenia, where he remained for a while at Turnu Monastery, on Olt Valley, where he was impressed not only by the beauty of the place, but also by the old tradition of the hermitage life over here. After finishing the military stage, he came back to Neamţ Monastery, called by the former abbot, who had become Metropolitan of Moldova in the meantime. He was appointed librarian, so that he had the opportunity to read a lot and put in good order the many books and manuscripts over there. He taught Romanian language lessons for the brothers at the monastic school. On 8 April 1936, the new abbot, archimandrite Valerie Moglan (future assistant hierarch of Iaşi) tonsured him into monasticism, in the big church monastery dedicated to the Ascension of the Lord, with the monastic name of John. Having the approval of Metropolitan Nicodim, in November 1936, the young monk went to the Holy Land together with some other monks. Once arrived there, he prayed at the holy Orthodox places of worship in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron and in other Bible localities. Then, pious John Jacob lived for two years in a cave in the Jordan desert. Afterwards, he settled in the old monastic monastery of Saint Sava, situated on Jordan Valley, founded by Saint Sava (439 – 532). Pious John lived here for eight years, doing various jobs: he took care of sick people, was a chaplain, guide, assistant administrator and librarian. After eight years, he was called to another service according to the will of God. The abbot of the Romanian church in Jerusalem, archimandrite Victorin Ursache (later on Archbishop of America) proposed the Romanian Patriarchate to ordain Pious John Jacob priest. Following the laudatory recommendations of archimandrite Victorin, our Patriarchate appointed schimonk John abbot to the Romanian skete of Jordan. He was ordained deacon and priest within the Divine Liturgies celebrated in the rotunda of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. So, pious hieroschimonk John was a pious diligent abbot in Jordan for five years, till 1952. As he thought he was surrounded by too many people and too much worry that hindered him to pray and meditate, and also sick, he decided in 1952, after spending a time in a hospital in Jerusalem, to give up the abbacy of the skete and retire to the Monastery of Saint George the Hosevite. Pious hieroschimonk John lived in a cave near this monastery dedicated to Saint Ana, in very harsh conditions of life for the last eight years of his life. Pious John Jacob passed away on 5 August 1960, in this cave, missing his country and always praying God. He was only 47 when he died, having spent 23 years in the country and the other 24 at the Holy Places. His body tired of fasting and vigil was laid in the third room of the cave for eternal rest, beside other schimonks who had lived there.
The body of Pious John remained in Saint Ana cave for 20 years. According to a local tradition, at the beginning of August 1980, the leadership of the Monastery of Saint George the Hosevite opened the graves in the cave wishing to take the remains of the Pious to the common grave. On 7 August 1980, his body, not rotten, namely his relics, was taken from the cave and brought to the monastery. It was laid in a special ebony shrine with glass above which was put then in the church.
The Holy Synod of our Church decided, during the working session of 20 June 1992, it was a thing pleasant to God and useful to the Orthodox faithful from everywhere, and especially, to the Romanians, that this Pious John the New, the Hosevite, should be ranked among the saints. He is remembered and celebrated on the day of his passing away, namely on 5 August.