Saint John Chrysostom
Patriarch of Constantinople
John was born in Antioch in the year 354. His father, Secundus, was an imperial commander and his
mother's name was Anthusa.
Studying Greek philosophy, John became disgusted with Hellenic paganism and adopted the Christian Faith as the
one and all-embracing truth. Meletius, Patriarch of Antioch, baptized John, and his parents also subsequently
Following his parents' repose, John was tonsured a monk and lived a strict life of asceticism. He then wrote a
book, On the Priesthood, after which the Holy Apostles John and Peter appeared to him, and prophesied
that he would have a life of great service, great grace and great suffering. When he was to be ordained a
priest, an angel of God appeared simultaneously to John and to Patriarch Flavian (Meletius's successor). While
the patriarch was ordaining John, a shining white dove was seen hovering over John's head.
Glorified for his wisdom, asceticism and power of words, John was chosen as Patriarch of Constantinople at the
behest of Emperor Arcadius. As patriarch, he governed the Church for six years with unequalled zeal and wisdom.
He sent missionaries to the pagan Celts and Scythians and eradicated simony in the Church, deposing many bishops
guilty of this vice. He extended the charitable works of the Church and wrote a special order of the Divine
Liturgy. He shamed the heretics, denounced Empress Eudoxia, interpreted Holy Scripture with his golden mind and
tongue, and bequeathed the Church many precious books of his homilies. The people glorified him, the envious
loathed him, and the Empress, on two occasions, sent him into exile.
John spent three years in exile, and reposed as an exile on the Feast of the Elevation of the Precious and
Life-giving Cross, September 14, 407, in the town of Comana in Georgia. Before his repose, the Holy Apostles
John and Peter appeared to him again, as did the Holy Martyr Basiliscus (May 22) in whose church he received
Communion for the last time. His last words were, "Glory be to God for all things," and with that, the soul of
the golden-mouthed patriarch was taken into Paradise.
Chrysostom's head reposes in the Church of the Dormition in Moscow, and his body reposes in the Vatican in Rome.
Punishment and reward! Both of these are in the hands of God. But, as this earthly life is only a shadow of the
true life in the heavens, so punishment and reward here on earth are only a shadow of true punishment and reward
in eternity. The principle persecutors of the saint of God Chrysostom were Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria and
After Chrysostom's martyric death, bitter punishment befell them both. Theophilus went mad, and Eudoxia was
banished from the imperial court by Emperor Arcadius. Eudoxia soon became ill with an incurable disease-wounds
opened up all over her body, and worms came out of her wounds. Such was the stench that she gave off, that it was
not easy for a person on the street to pass by her house. Physicians used all the most powerful perfumes and
incense if only to overcome the stench from the wicked empress, but had little success. The empress finally died in
corruption and agony. Even after death, the hand of God lay heavy on her. The coffin containing her body shook day
and night for a full thirty-four years until Emperor Theodosius translated the relics of St. John Chrysostom to
But what happened to Chrysostom after his repose? Reward-such reward as only God can give. Adeltius, the Arabian
bishop who received the exiled Chrysostom into his home in Cucusus, prayed to God after Chrysostom's repose that
He reveal to him where John's soul was to be found. Adeltius then had a vision while at prayer. It was as though he
were out of himself, and was led through the heavens by a radiant youth who showed him the hierarchs, pastors and
teachers of the Church in order, calling each of them by name-but he did not see John. Then that angel of God led
him to the passage out of Paradise, and Adeltius was downcast. When the angel asked him why he was sad, Adeltius
replied that he was sorry that he had not seen his beloved teacher, John Chrysostom. The angel replied: "No man
who is still in the flesh can see him, for he is at God's throne with the Cherubim and Seraphim."
HYMN OF PRAISE
Saint John Chrysostom
The Church glorifies St. John
The "Golden-mouth," blessed by God,
Christ's great soldier,
Who is the adornment and boast of the Church:
Profound of heart and mind,
And a golden-stringed harp of words.
He plumbed the depths of mysteries,
And found the pearl that shines as the stars.
Exalted in mind to heaven's height,
He expounded divine truth;
And his vision is true throughout history.
He gave all to the Son of God.
He revealed to us the horrors of sin,
And the virtues that adorn a man;
He showed us the most precious mysteries,
And all the sweet richness of Paradise.
Evangelist, interpreter of the Gospel
And bearer of spiritual joy,
Zealous for Christ like an apostle,
He would accept no injustice.
He was tormented like any martyr,
And received his torment as a pledge of salvation.
This servant of Christ showed himself true;
Therefore, the Church glorifies Chrysostom.
Reference: The Prologue from Ohrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich.
Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com
used with permission