September 13 Saints of the Day – The Church of the Resurrection and John Chrysostom

On this day in 1743, Great Britain, Austria and the Kingdom of Sardinia signed the Treaty of Worms. The worms, illiterate, signed with an “X.”

Church of the Holy SepulcherThe Church of the Resurrection was consecrated on this day in 335. After Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, many holy places commemorated by Christians and Jews — the Temple, the Holy Sepulcher, the 7-11 where Ezekiel once bought a Slurpee — were destroyed, paved over, and/or replaced with pagan shrines, temples, etc.

When Constantine edictified toleration, his mum, Helen, bopped down to Palestine to destroy pagan temples and build churches. (Sadly all the icons of Helen posing with a shovel at various groundbreakings were destroyed by the iconoclasts). Once she found the True Cross™ (see our entry of March 6), she ordered the Church of the Resurrection built on the spot. This took ten years, and sadly she had to go back to Constantinople and die before it was done, but everybody else who was anybody else came, including hierarchs from all but one of Bythnia, Thrace, Cilicia, Cappadocia, Syria, Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Arabia, Palestine, Egypt, and Minneapolis. A holy time was had by all, and everyone went away edified, except the ones who stayed behind edified.

Chrysostom (Byzantine bas relief)John Chrysostom (ca. 347 – 407) lost his father early, was raised by his pious mother, studied philosophy and other such nonsense, and was baptized by St. Meletius of Antioch. He became a reader, then a monk (“That’s true philosophy, that is,” he said), then a self-made refugee when he heard his name suggested for the episcopacy. After a stint in the desert (during which his health got unhealthy), he returned to Antioch, whereupon he was deaconified, and, five years later, priestified.

All this time he kept himself busy writing books and books and also books of exegesis, apologetics, and theology. Once he got his priest badge, he started preaching magnificent sermons unlocking the Scriptures for all to understand. Not one to do anything halfway, John started preaching on Genesis 1 at the beginning of Lent in 388, and plugged his way through the entire book, finishing up in October. Then he gave the same treatment to the Gospels, the Letters of Paul, and the Psalms. (All the while writing more books.)

Seeing that what he did best was preach, the holy Synod of Constantinople had him dragged to the capital city and installed as Patriarch, where he had to do lots of other stuff and couldn’t preach nearly as much as he had in Antioch. He lived very frugally, giving most of his stipend to hospices, hostels, and suchlike. He sent out lots of missionaries, established bishoprics in places that were as-yet unbishopriciated, and in general promoted the Christian faith throughout the region.

Chrysostom (statue, St. Patrick's NYC)He also preached out against moral laxity, greed, and vanity — especially in the clergy, the rich, and the royals — taking as his especial target the Empress Eudoxia, who was apparently somewhat lacking in the corresponding virtues. When he condemned some hierarchs, a council was called, and it voted that he be (a) deposed, then (b) killed (in that order). The emperor commuted the death sentence, but when a riot and an earthquake broke out, Eudoxia repented and had John recalled. This lasted until the next time he made her mad, whereupon he was once again given a subway ticket out of town. The Church of Hagia Sophia (and the Senate building but who cares about that?) immediately burned to the ground, and shortly thereafter barbarians incursed. From exile John wrote encouraging letters to his flock, but Eudoxia died before she could recall him, and he died before anybody else could.

In the East he is one of the Three Great and Holy Hierarchs and Ecumenical Teachers (with Basil the Great and Gregory Nanzianzus); in the West is he is a Doctor of the Church and is called the “greatest of the Greek Fathers.” His moniker “Chrysostom” means “golden-mouthed,” referring to his many capped teeth — sorry — his many wonderful sermons. He is the patron saint of Constantinople (called Istanbul by some); of preachers, speakers, and lecturers; and of epileptics.

Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.

September 13 (Wikipedia)
St John Chrysostom the Archbishop of Constantinople (OCA) – Main source
Saint John Chrysostom (SQPN)
1885 Photo of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher from Wikimedia (public domain)
Photo of statue (St. Patrick’s, NYC) by Wikimedia user Doctor Swan licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license Use here does not imply the good doctor likes me, this use, the Onion Dome, or anything else.
Photo of bas relief also from Wikimedia (public domain)