St John was born in Antioch in the year 354. His father, Secundus, was an imperial commander and his mother’s name was Anthusa. John’s father died soon after his birth and he was raised by his mother. 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 mother also subsequently received baptism.
Following his mother’s 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 unequaled 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. Eudoxia and other of his enemies held a synod in 403 (the Synod of the Oak) to charge John. He was condemned as a heretic and deposed.
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 Komani in Georgia. Before his repose, the Holy Apostles John and Peter appeared to him again, as did the Holy Martyr Basilisk (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.
The grace of your words illuminated the universe like a shining beacon. It amassed treasures of munificence in the world. It demonstrated the greatness of humility, teaching us by your own words; therefore, O Father John Chrysostom, intercede to Christ the Logos for the salvation of our souls.
Kontakion (Tone 6)
You received divine grace from Heaven, and by your own lips taught all to worship the One God in Trinity. All-blessed, venerable John Chrysostom, deservedly, we praise you for you are a teacher clearly revealing things divine.
Quote from St John Chrysostom’s Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew, Homily 25: Let us give thanks to God continually…
Let us give thanks to God continually. For, it is outrageous that when we enjoy His benefaction to us indeed every single day, we do not acknowledge the favour with so much as a word; and this, when the acknowledgment confers great benefit on us. He does not need anything of ours, but we stand in need of all things from Him.
In point of fact, thanksgiving adds nothing to Him, but it brings us closer to Him. For if, when we recall the benefactions of men, we are the more warmed by affection for them; much more, when we continually bring to mind the benefits of the Master towards us, shall we be more earnest with regard to His commandments.
For this cause Paul also said, Be ye thankful. For the best preservative of any benefaction is the remembrance of the benefaction and a continual thanksgiving for it.
Homily on Repentance and Almsgiving, Homily 2: Are you a sinner? Do not become discouraged, and come to Church…
Are you a sinner? Do not become discouraged, and come to Church to put forward repentance. Have you sinned? Then tell God, ‘I have sinned.’ What manner of toil is this, what prescribed course of life, what affliction? What manner of difficulty is it to make one statement, ‘I have sinned’? Perhaps if you do not call yourself a sinner, you do not have the devil as an accuser? Anticipate this and snatch the honour away from him, because it is his purpose to accuse. Therefore, why do you not prevent him, and why do you not tell your sin and wipe it out, since you know that you have such an accuser who cannot remain silent? Have you sinned? Come to Church. Tell God, ‘I have sinned.’ I do not demand anything else of you than this. Holy Scripture states, ‘Be the first one to tell of your transgressions, so you may be justified’. Admit the sin to annul it.
(Saint Nikolai Velimirovich)
- Saint John Chrysostom, Icon
- Saint John Chrysostom, mosaic in Hagia Sofia, Constantinople
- The Sarcophagus of St. John Chrysostom in Komani, Georgia
Header: Saint John Chrysostom in Exile, Menologion of Basil II