A native of Matera, Italy, John
in his childhood longed to become a hermit. As a young man, he worked for a time
as a shepherd in the service of a monastery. His exceptional austerity, however, was so irksome to the less fervent monks that he soon had to leave. Thereafter he journeyed from place to place as he strove to carry out God's will
for him. At one point, acting upon a vision of Saint Peter he had experienced, John
rebuilt a dilapidated church dedicated to the saint. Later, he traveled to Bari, where he preached with great efficacy. Certain individuals, motivated perhaps by jealousy, attacked the popular preacher with false charges of heresy, but he was in the end totally cleared of their accusations. Eventually John
founded a Benedictine monastery at Pulsano and became its first abbot.