The Life of St. John Chrysostom

The Life of St. John Chrysostom taken from: The Preaching of Chrysostom, Homilies on the Sermon on the Mount by Jaroslav Pelikan, ed. and, Orthodox Saints vol. 4 by George Poulos.

St. John Chrysostom was born in Antioch around the year 347 A.D. He lost his father while still an infant and was raised by his mother as an only child. He studied rhetoric and ancient Greek philosophy nuder a renowned teacher in Antioch.

At 23 he was tonsured a reader of the Church of Antioch and began focusing on the Bible in his studies. He went to the desert outside of Antioch to be a monk, but his very austere approach forced him to return to Antioch after two years. For the next twenty years, he served the Church of Antioch as Reader, then Deacon, and after 386, as priest and preacher. It was in this time that he acquired the appellation: Golden mouthed, or Chrysostom.

In 397, during the reign of Theodosius the Great, at the age of 49, John was elected Patriarch of Constantinople. He was consecrated a bishop the following year (in 398). His outspokenness had made and continued to make many enemies for him, including Pope Theophilos of Alexandria and the empress, Eudoxia. His enemies forced St. John into exile in 403. After his removal, his many followers raised such an outcry that he was returned to Constantinople within a few weeks. But, the following year, he was exiled again after the Empress was offended by his sermons.

He resided in Armenia, until his writings forced the Emperor, at the urging of his wife, to send John further away – to the mountains of Georgia. On his way to this more remote exile, St. John died on September 14, 407.