John the Hermit

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This article is about the medieval Catholic saint. John the Hermit may also refer to the Venerable John the Hermit or John of Egypt.
Saint John the Hermit
Born 1050
Quintanaortuño, Spain
Died 1143
Honored in
Roman Catholic Church
Major shrine San Juan de Ortega

Juan de Ortega, better known as Saint John the Hermit (c. 1050 – 1143), was born near Burgos, Spain, and became a priest at a young age. As he was returning by sea from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, his ship encountered a dangerous storm that threatened to sink it.

After safely arriving in Spain, John sought a place of solitude where he could devote himself to contemplation. He may have founded the monastery of San Juan de Ortega, named after him. He erected a hermitage for himself at a forested site known as Urteca or Ortega (Spanish for "nettle"), situated on the pilgrim road to Spain’s most popular shrine, Santiago de Compostela. He also built a church in honor of Saint Nicholas, to whose intercession he attributed his deliverance from the storm at sea. In addition, John established at Urteca a hospice for lodging pilgrims and other travelers. He devoted his manual labors to the construction and repair of bridges and roads for the pilgrim route to Compostela. Shortly before his death, John offered special prayers for the peace of the Church and for the faithful departed.

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