St John Chrysostom

(Commemorated 13 November)

St John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, is one of the most influential and important Fathers of our Church. In addition to writing the Divine Liturgy, which we celebrate most Sundays, he gave countless sermons to the people, of which more than 1,400 are available today. His words have inspired and shaped countless Christians and, for that reason, his Apolytikion begins with the words, “the grace of your words illuminated the world like a shining beacon.” Indeed, his great eloquence earnt him the title of “Chrysostom” (“goldenmouth” in Greek), and he is regarded as one of the Three Holy Hierarchs.

St John was born in Antioch around the year 345. From a young age, he showed both great promise as an orator, as well as great zeal for Christ. He learnt the former from Libanius, the greatest Greek scholar of the day, whilst he learnt the latter from his pious parents, Secundus and Anthusa. He eventually decided to forsake a career as an orator, and instead chose to live a monastic life between the years 374 and 381. Due to the effect that his extreme ascetism had on his health, he returned to Antioch in 381, where he was ordained a deacon. In 386, he became a priest, and in 398 he was made Archbishop of Constantinople.

St John’s passionate preaching earnt him many enemies amongst the authorities. He strongly denounced the practices of priests and bishops living luxurious lives as a result of their positions, and he condemned the Empress Eudoxia on a number of occasions for her lax morals and for having a statue of herself erected in front of the church of St Sophia. As a result of his boldness, he was banished on a number of occasions, and eventually died in exile in Pontus on 14 September 407. As that is the feast day of the Elevation of the Cross, we celebrate his memory on 13 November.

Source: Lychnos October-November 2019