Blessed John, Fool-for-Christ, Wonderworker of Moscow, was born on the outskirts of Vologda. In his youth he toiled at a saltworks, where he was a water-carrier. The saint combined strict fasting and prayer with his heavy work. Later he moved on to Rostov, where he began his exploit of holy foolishness for the sake of Christ. He wore chains with heavy iron crosses, and on his head was a heavy iron cap, for which they called him “John Big-Cap”. In Moscow he went barefoot and almost naked in even the most severe frost, and he foretold the great misfortunes for Russia, the Time of Troubles and the incursion of the Poles, saying that “in Moscow will be many visible and invisible devils.”
He spoke the truth to everyone fearlessly, regardless of what position they might occupy. Even to Tsar Boris Godunov, he often said: “Clever mind, sort out the things of God. God waits for a long time. Yes, it hurts.”
Before his death Saint John indicated the place where he wanted to be buried: at the Protection church on Rva, which was later known as the cathedral of Saint Basil the Blessed (August 2). Preparing himself for burial, he removed the chains he had worn under his clothing and poured water over himself three times. Just before his repose († 1589), the blessed one received the gift of healing. In Moscow, he was venerated as a great wonderworker and seer. On June 12, 1672, the relics of the blessed one were found resting under a bushel in one of the chapels of the Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed. His Service and Life were preserved in Lists of the seventeenth century.