In the Rituale Romanum of the Catholic Church one can find a blessing for wine which is reserved for the Feast of St. John the Apostle (December 27).

Why does the Catholic Church associate this tradition with St John?

Occasionally artists show a snake or a dragon coming out of a chalice with St. John the Apostle.

El Greco: St. John the Evangelist, 1595-1604

El Greco: St. John the Evangelist, 1595-1604

  • Perhaps it alludes to when James & John's mother asked Jesus if her "two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left, in thy kingdom […] Can you drink the chalice that I shall drink? They say to him: We can" (Mt. 20:20-23).
    – Geremia
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 23:48

2 Answers 2


The reason is:

The Church provided a special blessing of wine in honor of the Saint. According to legend St. John drank a glass of poisoned wine without suffering harm because he had blessed it before he drank. 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 Our Lord during the Passion and Crucifixion.

This is the source

So tradition say:

St. John’s wine, blessed by a priest or sprinkled with holy water by the father of the family, is served with the main meal. In Europe, even the children receive a little sip of it after the main course of the dinner. The wine is then poured into glasses and passed around to the family and guests. As each glass is given, the leader says: “I drink thee the love of St. John.”

The response to this is: “I thank thee for the love of St. John.”

This is the source


Granmirupa is correct. Going to add a little more info. According to the St. Anthony Messenger:


"According to Francis X. Weiser in the Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs (Harcourt Brace), as late as 1952 Catholics in Central Europe brought wine and cider to church for blessing on the feast of St. John. They then took it home and some of them poured a bit of the blessed wine or cider into every barrel in the cellar."

The book can be found here: (pdf)


The painting below is of "St. John the Evangelist" holding the chalice, by Alonso Cano, from Granada, Spain. It was painted between 1635-1637. It's in The Louvre Museum in Paris, France. The author explaining this painting is Francois De Vergnette. He gives this explanation:

"Saint John the Evangelist is blessing the poisoned chalice given him by a pagan priest of Ephesus to test him, but the poison escapes from the chalice in the form of a small two-headed dragon, as Jacobus de Voragine recounts in his Golden Legend (1228-1298)... Saint John the Evangelist is depicted holding a chalice, an allusion to his being put to the test by the high priest of the Temple of Diana at Ephesus. The high priest said to him: "If you want me to believe in your god, I will give you some poison to drink and, if it does not harm you, it means that your god is the true God." Thus the picure shows Saint John making the gesture of blessing which was to neutralize the poison escaping from the chalice in the form of a small two-headed dragon. He was then able to drink the potion, according to the legend."

De Vergnette further explains that even though this was a legend from Jacobus de Voragine, it was inspired by St. Matthew when Christ says to John and his brother: "You shall indeed share my cup" (Matthew 20:23).

From: Mark 16:18, NIV

"These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."

enter image description here

  • Very similar thing happened to St. Benedict.
    – Geremia
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 23:51

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