|St. Aiden's Cathedral, Enniscorthy,England|
Today is the feast of St. John the Apostle, the disciple "whom Jesus loved". It is a custom in monasteries (and throughout Europe) to drink of "St. John's Love". The Church provides a special blessing of wine in honor of the Saint.
According to tradition St. John drank a glass of wine poisoned by Emperor Domitian without suffering harm because he had blessed it before he drank. (Just as did our St. Benedict 500 years later). When the Apostle said a blessing over the wine, the poison left the wine in the form of a snake.
|Alonso Cano, 1636|
The wine is also a symbol of the great love of Christ that filled St. John's heart with loyalty, courage and enthusiasm for his Master. He alone of all the apostles was not afraid to stay close to Jesus during the Passion and Crucifixion and he was the only Apostle not martyred.
In Catholic Europe, even the children receive a little sip of this blessed wine after the main course of the dinner. The wine is poured in glasses and passed around to the family and guests. As each glass is given, they say: "I drink you the love of St. John."
After our Mass of St. John, Father will say the following prayer over several bottles of wine that we have chosen. For us it represents the wine we will drink through the year as well.
Let us pray.
If it please You, Lord God, bless + this wine by the power of Your right hand; and grant that, through the merits of St. John, apostle and evangelist, all Your faithful who drink of it may find it a help and a protection. As the blessed John drank the poisoned potion without any ill effects, so may all who today drink the blessed wine in his honor be delivered from poisoning and similar harmful things. And as they offer themselves body and soul to You, may they obtain pardon of all their sins; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bless, † O Lord, Your creation which we will drink: that it may be a health giving remedy to all who receive it. Grant, through the invocation of Your holy name, that all who taste of it be healed in body and soul; and what they have given You, they may receive abundantly in return. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.