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Saint John Chrysostom

Saint John Chrysostom
  • Century: 4th & 5th Century
  • Patronage: Education, Epilepsy, Lecturers, Orators, Preachers
  • Feast Day: September 13th

St. John Chrysostom was born in Antioch, in 349 to Greco-Syrian parents.  John’s father was a high-ranking military officer, and died soon after his birth, leaving him to be raised by his mother.  He was baptized in 368, and was educated in Rhetoric by the teacher Libanius.  He also had a love for Greek language and literature.  As he grew older, he became more deeply committed to Christianity and went on to study theology under Diodore of Tarsus, founder of the re-constituted School of Antioch.  

He lived with extreme asceticism and became a hermit in 375.  He spent the next two years continually standing, scarcely sleeping, and learning the Bible by memory.  As a consequence of these extreme practices, his stomach and kidneys were permanently damaged and poor health forced him to return to Antioch.  

St. Meletius of Antioch ordained John a deacon in 381.  After the death of Meletius he was ordained a Priest.  In Antioch John gained popularity because of his eloquence in public speaking, especially his deep insight of Bible passages and moral teachings.  He emphasised charitable giving and was concerned with the spiritual and temporal needs of the poor.  His straight forward understanding of the Scriptures meant that the themes of his talks were practical, explaining the Bible’s application to everyday life.  He also founded a series of hospitals in Constantinople to care for the poor.  He was loved by the people he served.   

In 397 John was appointed Archbishop of Constantinople.  He literally had to leave Antioch in secret, due to fears that his departure would cause civil unrest.  He had become that popular for his preaching over the years.  He became very unpopular among the wealthy, and very popular among the poor, as he preached a lot against wealth.  His time in Constantinople was not always easy.  John was either tactless or fearless when denouncing offences in high places.  He eventually was exhiled out of the area.   

John wrote letters which still held great influence in Constantinople, and as a result of this was further exiled to Pitiunt (modern Georgia) where his tomb is a shrine for pilgrms.  He never reached this destination, as he died during the journey to get there.  His last words are said to have been, “Glory be to God for all things”.  He came to be venerated as a saint soon after his death.   Ultimately Chrysostom’s relics were returned to Constantinople, where they were enshrined in the “Church of the Holy Apostles” in 438.  

Practical Take Away 

St. John Chrysostom was somone that sought out the faith, and then when he found the truth and became Christian, went to all lengths to teach and preach the faith. He was outspoken on the moral life, and so much so, that he was exiled.  He became the Bishop of Constantinople, and it was from that see that he was exiled.  He died while in route to his new location.  He knew that the only way to be faithful, was to preach the Word of Truth, to those in need, no matter the cost.  When we find ourselves in a position that we need to speak the truth in Faith matters, we would do well to invoke the intercession of St. John Chrysostom.