St John's Wine: A Catholic Tradition

by Patrick Werick December 28, 2013

You can haul wine into your local Catholic church and get it blessed by the priest on the feast of St. John the Evangelist, December 27th. I did just that and brought a case to the communion rail after mass. 

That's right, at participating locations, the priest imparts the Church's blessing on the vino, which turns it into a sacramental. Catholics drink the wine throughout the year at special occasions like weddings or baptisms, to help recover from sickness but, most importantly, on the feast of St. John at a fine meal (after all, the specially blessed batch needs to last until the next December 27th — ration carefully, folks). 

Now what better way to celebrate the third day of Christmas than by feasting with friends and family over blessed wine in honor of St. John the Evangelist (that's exactly what I did this year)? There's even a special toast where the Father of the household raises his glass and says:

"I drink you the love of Saint John."

As wine glasses clink, the traditional response is: "I thank you for the love of Saint John." 

After drinking the love of St. John to all present, feasting and merrymaking should ensue (in my case, we had the image of St. John out on the dinner table with candles; now the artwork is safeguarding the wine stash for special occasions in 2014). 

Though St. John the Apostle was not a martyr, there certainly were assassination attempts on him, which is exactly where this brilliant Catholic custom comes from. 

Tradition holds that John was given a poisoned glass of wine to consume. Before taking a swig or sniff, he blessed the goblet of vino and out came a snake. Saint John then went about his business, drank the wine, and was A-OK! 

Naturally, we're glad holy mother Church has preserved this tradition and formulated a special blessing, found in the Ritual, that any priest can impart. So grab a glass, drink the love of Saint John, throw a magnanimous feast and enjoy the enhanced bodily & spiritual protection that accompanies responsibly-consumed, sacramental-St-John's wine. 

 St. John the Evangelist by el Greco



St. John the Evangelist by Peter Paul Rubens


Patrick Werick
Patrick Werick


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