St John Chrysostom

St John Chrysostom was born in Antioch in the mid 4th century. Though he was eventually elevated to the episcopal office, and would one day be named the Archbishop of Constantinople (his appointment being the event celebrated in today’s feast), he spent several years avoiding this “fate” in the wilderness. His strict asceticism finally forced him to return to Antioch, having caused permanent damage to some of his internal organs. Once he returned to Antioch, he was ordained a deacon and, several years later, a priest. His nickname, Golden-Mouthed (sometimes also translated less literally as Golden-Tongued), was a result of his many years delivering homilies, famous for their theological insight and eloquence. The only thing more dazzling than his content was the speed with which he produced it; his homilies on the Gospel of St John, for instance, were delivered over the course of a year, even though there are nearly 90 of them and all are quite lengthy compared to today’s average homily. He was also well-known for his work with the needy in his area, aiding the poor, the sick, and the hungry.

In 397 AD, his fame having spread throughout the Christian world, he was made the Archbishop of Constantinople. He threw himself into the role with all the drive which had characterized his life until that point, sending missionaries to the pagans and combating the ubiquitous heresies of the 4th century. Perhaps most famously, he compiled and developed the Divine Liturgy which bears his name today, a project probably begun during his time in Antioch and perfected in Constantinople.

Eventually, the treacherous politics of the Byzantine era and his steadfastness in the face of immorality caused his disfavor in the eyes of the Empress Eudoxia, who attempted several times to have him exiled. These occasions often coincided with a natural disaster such as an earthquake or a fire, interpreted perhaps unsurprisingly as a manifestation of God’s displeasure in the treatment of this great saint by the Empress. After multiple attempts, St John was permanently exiled if only because his death during the course of one of his exiles ensured its permanence. His last words were “Glory to God for all things,” and within a few decades of his death his relics were returned to Constantinople. By the end of the century, he was already regarded throughout the world as a great saint.

 

“The grace that shines forth from your mouth like a torch has enlightened the universe, bestowed treasures of generosity upon the world, and shown us the eminence of humility. While you teach us by your words, Holy

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