The ‘golden-mouthed’ St. John Chrysostom

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By Mel Mantanona

St. John Chrysostom was born in 347 at Antioch during a time when many different heresies and religions went rampant throughout the lands. Young John was raised by his intelligent, widowed-mother who not only sent him to the best schools but also taught him piety.

He dabbled in what was then considered to be secular studies until the age of 20 when he met Bishop Meletius and was enthralled by the bishop’s zealous demeanor and disposition.

He shied toward the monastic and religious lifestyle. He began to study the Scriptures and was soon baptized and ordained a lector. His new lifestyle embodied prayer, manual labor, and the study of Scripture.

Soon after his life changed, he decided to become a hermit and live in a cave near Antioch. He lasted all but two years, having to return back into the world due to bad health. He was ordained a deacon and later a priest and spent his time helping teaching catechumens, preaching, and composing writings.

His preaching, rooted in Scripture, invoked many feelings of strength, calmness, encouragement and comfort in his audiences. This earned him his famous nickname “golden-mouthed.” His commentaries serve as a fount of “inexhaustible treasure of dogmatic, moral, and historical knowledge” of the theological developments of his time. Pope Pius V awarded him with the title of Doctor of the Church in 1568.

Eventually a bishop, John began cleaning up the ecclesiastical life around him. He reconciled bitter arguments that lasted for ages and gave much needed discipline to the clergy who needed it. Through his preaching, he taught the laity humility and stunned them with his great love for the poor and miserable.

Despite being a beloved bishop, his enemies eventually struck against him and John was sent into exile. Through his pain, he encountered peace and happiness like St. Paul the Apostle and died in 407.

St. John Chrysostom remains today an esteemed saint, church father, and Doctor of the Church. He is also a prominent Doctor in the Eastern Church as well. His feast day is Sept. 13.

Information and photo from New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, Catholic.org, and Francisican Media