Saint John the Chrysostom Archbishop of Constantinople
Holiday date: 11/13
This great father and teacher of the Eastern Orthodox Church was born in Antioch in 347 AD (according to others in 354 AD). His father was General Secundos and his mother Anthousa. He was soon left fatherless, and his mother – then a widow of 20 – brought him up and educated him in the best Christian way.
He was a brilliant mind and studied many sciences in Antioch – near the then famous orator Livanius – but also in Athens, together with his dear friend Basil the Great (see January 1).
When he had finished his studies, he returned to Antioch and retired to the desert for five years, where he lived as an ascetic, praying and studying the Holy Scriptures. However, he fell ill and returned to Antioch, where he was ordained a deacon – in 381 AD, at the age of 34 – by the Archbishop of Antioch, Meletius. Later, by the successor of Meletius Flavianos the elder at the age of 40.
During his priestly ministry he developed all his spiritual gifts, fiery divine zeal and unprecedented eloquence in his sermons. He was shaking the multitudes of Antioch and moving their souls deeply. This fame of his reached the reigning one and thus, on December 15, 397 AD, with the joint vote of King Arkadius and Cleros, he became Patriarch of Constantinople, something he himself never sought. And from this position Saint Chrysostom, among other things, was a strict ascetic and a careful interpreter of the Holy Scriptures, as can be seen from his many writings (about 804 of his sermons have been preserved). Chrysostom’s work is also the Divine Liturgy, which we celebrate almost every Sunday, with only a few changes since then.
Saint Chrysostomos during his patriarchate was a relentless controller of all illegality and vice. But this caused him to create terrible enemies, and indeed this empress Eudoxia, because she controlled her illegalities. In fact, she, in collaboration with the then Patriarch of Alexandria Theophilos (a vicious and impious man), convened an (illegal) synod of 36 bishops (all spiritually suspect and dissatisfied with the saint) in the village of Drys in Chalcedon and succeeded in deposing and banishing him Saint in a village of Bithynia. This decision, however, so enraged the crowds that Eudoxia herself was forced to recall him from exile and restore him to the throne with another synodal acquittal decision (402 AD). But a little later, this impious empress managed to exile the Saint again (June 20, 404 AD) to Koukousso in Armenia and from there to Komana, where, after many hardships and other sufferings, he died in 407 AD.
M. I. Galanos in his Synaxarist, among others, mentions about Saint Chrysostom, that he was and is recognized as the most excellent and popular teacher of the Christian Church. No one explained the meanings of the divine Scriptures as he did, with such wealth and such clarity, nor was there his equal in preparation, simplicity, but also in the fire and power of oratory. He was an amazing orator, an incomparable writer, profound and penetrating, a psychologist and an amazing sociologist with a feeling of Christian equality, without the privileged, with Catholic brotherhood. It belongs to those who appear “as lights in the world” (To the Philippians, 6’15.). That is, like bright stars in the world.
Let us note here that Saint Chrysostom died on September 14th, but due to the feast of the elevation of the Holy Cross, the feast of his memory was postponed to November 13th. Also on December 15th we celebrate his ordination as Patriarch of Constantinople, on January 27th the collection of his relics, but his memory is also celebrated on January 30th together with Basil the Great and Saint Gregory the Theologian. And finally on February 26 we celebrate the memory of his ordination as an elder.