The Pontiff St John the Chrysostom, is one of the most prominent and gracious Fathers of the Universal Church. He was born in Antioch, in 347 AD. He studied in the Theological School of Antioch and advanced his skills in public speaking in the School of Libanios. From a young age, he led an ascetic life. In 381 AD he was ordained as a Deacon by Meletios of Antioch and in 386 AD was ordained as a priest by Flavianos. Thanks to his brilliant and eloquent speeches and sermons he has been give the title “Chrysostom”, from the Greek meaning “golden mouthed”.
In 398 AD he was elected the Patriarch of Constantinople and zealously initiated renovation and reconstruction works of the capital city. He was most concerned with the spiritual and temporal needs of the poor. He spoke out against abuse of wealth and personal property. In many respects, the following he amassed was no surprise. His straightforward understanding of the Scriptures (in contrast to the Alexandrian tendency towards allegorical interpretation) meant that the themes of his talks were eminently social, explaining the Christian’s conduct in life.
However, amorality and religious indifferences were dominant among the people, the court and the clergy. St John Chrysostom condemned and criticised all forms and manifestations of amorality and as a result, he raised the Queen Eudoxia’s anger. The Patriarch Theophilos of Alexandria, who wished to become the Patriarch of Constantinople, supported the Queen in her criticisms of St John Chrysostom.
An alliance was soon formed against him by Eudoxia, Theophilos and other enemies of his. They held a synod (assembly) in 403AD to charge John, in which the accusation of Origenism was used against him. It resulted in his deposition and banishment. However, during the night of the exile, a terrible earthquake and fire occurred which Eudoxia took as a sign of God’s anger and promptly reinstated John.
St John the Chrysostom continued to criticise the wrong and immoral way of life of the court. Ignoring the people’s sympathy towards the Patriarch and the protection of the Western Church, the King Arkadios and the Queen Eudoxia again issued an order to exile the saint. St John was exiled to Pontos and was martyred in the town of Komana. His last words were: “Glory to You, God, glory to You, glory to You for everything.” His remains were buried in the Church of St Apostles of Constantinople in 438 AD.
St John the Chrysostom is the author of many interpretations, speeches, odes, epistles and letters, which have had positive influences on the history of the Christian mind. His works have been translated into Armenian during his lifetime.