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the story of st john chrysostom created by andrea lorenzo molinari ph d september 2012 n.
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  1. The Story of St. John Chrysostom created by Andrea Lorenzo Molinari, Ph.D. (September 2012) Golden Mouth

  2. Born in Antioch in A.D. 349 This map was generously gifted to me by Fr. Gregory-Lazarus Murphy, pastor of St. Michael’s Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, Geneva, NY.

  3. Early years in Antioch • Born to wealthy Christian parents: Secundus, a government official and Anthusa. • Secundus died when John was young, leaving Anthusa (20) with John and an infant daughter. • Around age 16, John studied under the famous non-Christian rhetorician, Libanus – a professor at Athens and Constantinople before coming to Antioch.

  4. John was going to be an Imperial bureaucrat like his father… until he met the Antiochene Bishop Meletius – a defender of the Council of Nicaea. From then on, John focused his attention on things of God. • At this time the Church in Antioch was seriously divided: the Arians held part of the community and there were two separate pro-Nicene factions (a schism which persisted during John’s entire time in Antioch)! For a brief period around 375, the city had a fourth bishop, an Apollinarian. • The Meletian faction was forced to worship in the open air and outside the city as the physical churches of Antioch had been given into the hands of the Arians by the Emperor Valens.

  5. Antioch – Modern Antakya in TURKEY

  6. Early Involvement with the Church • John was baptized in 369. However, because Bishop Meletius did not have a church building, it is likely that John was baptized outside… perhaps in the Orontes River itself.

  7. Ordained a Lector – a reader of Sacred Scripture during liturgies (a VERY rare skill) Codex KellisIsocrates Wooden Codex, 4th century Egypt Nag Hammadi Codex II, latter 4th century Egypt

  8. Ascetical tendencies • In the early 370s, John joined an urban school of monasticism (in Greek: asketerion). • After training and living with the monks for four years, John went outside Antioch to live in a cave for two years.

  9. A hermit’s cave outside of Antakya, Turkey.

  10. Sadly, the rigorous lifestyle broke John’s health and forced his return to the city.

  11. John was ordained a deacon in AD 381

  12. John was ordained a priest in 386 under Meletius’ successor, Flavian. • He was well known for his piety, sanctity and passion for social justice. • Earned a reputation for eloquence. • From 386 to 398, he spent the majority of his time preaching and caring for the religious instruction of his congregation in Antioch.

  13. A priest kidnapped in Antioch!!! • In a rather strange turn of events, John was kidnapped in 398, and taken against his will to Constantinople. • This was arranged by a powerful government official in Constantinople named, Eutropius. He wanted John because he felt that the capital should have the very finest orator for its archbishop.

  14. Eutropius had NO IDEA what kind of spiritual earthquake he was bringing to Constantinople… but the Holy Spirit knew!

  15. The Reformer Arrives… • Before John’s arrival in Constantinople, the archbishop’s palace was the site of many dinner parties, visiting bishops and political figures were hosted in lavish parties. John cancelled this practice. • In the first year, John’s economy saved enough in household expenses to build a hospital.

  16. As time went on, John utilized his sizable household budget to care for the poor and to build additional hospitals. • He lived an ascetical lifestyle in the archbishop’s palace, eating alone and dining on very simple food. He refused invitations to dine with the emperor. This failure to socialize with the ruling elite hurt his standing with the powerful and wealthy, which eventually made his demise possible.

  17. Clerical Reforms… • He reformed various monastic practices in and around Constantinople. He forbade celibate clergy to live with “spiritual sisters,” single women who lived in monks monasteries so as to tend to their domestic needs. • In addition, he tightened the requirements for the rank of widows in the Church, recommending to some that they seek second marriages. • He cracked down on bishops in Asia Minor for buying and selling clerical offices (i.e., simony) and for financial mismanagement.

  18. John’s aim was to reform public morals and he preached against those who lived a life of wealth and ostentation.

  19. Trouble on the horizon… Although originally on good terms with the Emperor Arcadius and the Empress AeliaEudoxia, his attempts to spark Christian reform led to a feud with the Empress.

  20. John’s Church, Hagia Sophia (a.k.a., MegaleEkklesia), dedicated in A.D. 360.

  21. Hagia Sophia was located just north and east of the Emperor’s Palace.

  22. From his pulpit at Hagia Sophia, John directly challenged the ruling class and establishment, including the Empress. It wasn’t appreciated…

  23. “The gold bit on your horse, the gold circlet on the wrist of your slave, the gilding on your shoes, mean that you are robbing the orphan and starving the widow. When you have passed away, each passer-by who looks upon your great mansion will say, ‘How many tears did it take to build that mansion; how many orphans were stripped; how many widows wronged; how many laborers deprived of their honest wages?’ Even death itself will not deliver you from your accusers!” (Homily 2.4)

  24. A Formidable Enemy • As a direct result of intrigues that involved the Empress and various court figures and several bishops, John was charged with a number of ridiculous and false accusations. • When he refused to even honor such charges, he deposed and exiled by the Empress in 403. • Severian was made bishop.

  25. Upon news reaching Constantinople’s people, riots broke out.

  26. Within days, John was reinstated…

  27. John’s continued his criticism of the Empress Eudoxia, challenging her treatment of the poor and weakest members of society.

  28. As a result, he was condemned by Empress Eudoxia and he was once again exiled, being sent to Cocussus (eastern Turkey, southeast of Caesarea) in 404.

  29. The common people loved John. Riots broke out on June 20, 404. Sadly, in the resulting civic chaos, Hagia Sophia was badly burned and… today NOTHING is left of this first church.

  30. A final attempt to free John… While exiled, John continued to correspond (over 200 letters date from this period) with his supporters and shared his beliefs with them (among them Pope Innocent I of Rome who, with many Italian bishops, tried to intervene on John’s behalf).

  31. A fatal decision… When Empress Eudoxia learned of his contacts, she had him further exiled to Pityus on the Black Sea. John died on this last journey near Comana in northeastern Turkey on September 14, 407.

  32. John’s destination… if Empress Eudoxia had her way.

  33. It is said that the holy archbishop, saint, martyr and doctor, died, uttering these final words: “Glory to God for everything!”

  34. St. John Chrysostom’s Legacy • John Chrysostom has left the most extensive literary legacy of any Greek Father • Nearly 1,000 of his homilies have survived whole or in part (with many of these it is often almost impossible to determine if they were delivered in Antioch or in Constantinople) • Note: John’s sermons on the Acts of the Apostles remain the only surviving commentaries on that book from the first 1,000 years of the Church! • 240 letters of John’s have also survived (17 of these [1-17] were written to his friend, the Deaconess Olympias)

  35. For Roman Catholics… • John Chrysostom is a SAINT. • His Feast Day is celebrated on September 13th. • He is also one of only 33 Doctors of the Church.

  36. For Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches • John is a saint. • Many regard him as a martyr. • He is an Ecumenical Hierarch • He is also known as one of the THREE HOLY HIERARCHS, which include John, Basil of Caesarea, and Gregory Nazianzus (both Basil and Gregory are regarded as Doctors of the Church by Roman Catholics). • For the Greek Orthodox, his Feast Day is January 27th. • In the Antiochian Orthodox Church the Feast of the Three Hierarchs is January 30th. • The Russian Orthodox celebrate John’s Feast Day on November 26th (as well as January 27th AND 30th!)

  37. Sources for John’s life and ministry… • the Church histories of Sozomen and Socrates • the anonymous Life of Olympias • selected orations of Gregory Nazanzius • Gregory Nazanzius, Carmen de vita sua • Homilies of Severian of Gabala • The biography of John by Martyrius • Palladius, Dialogus de vita IohannisChrysostomi

  38. Selected books for further study…

  39. FINAL NOTE: Eventually, reconstruction on Hagia Sophia II was initiated in 415 by Theodosius II. It too was eventually burned (again in a riot) in 532. The current structure, Hagia Sophia III, was started only a few days later in 532.

  40. This is a mosaic of John from the current Hagia Sophia, which today serves as a museum.