Today is one of the feasts of John Chrysostom. He became Bishop of Constantinople in 397. His episcopate was, however, tumultuous and short. He was formed by desert monasticism and continued the ascetical life in the episcopal residence for which he was often criticized. He incurred the wrath of Empress Eudoxia who believed he had called her a “Jezebel.” He was twice exiled. He died on September 14, 407 during the second exile. His remains were brought back to Constantinople thirty-one years later on January 27.
The Prologue of Ohrid says this about the translation of his holy relics:
Thirty years after his death, Patriarch Proculus delivered a homily in memory of his spiritual father and teacher. He so enflamed the love of the people and Emperor Theodosius the Younger toward this great saint that all of them desired that Chrysostom’s relics be translated to Constantinople. It was said that the sarcophagus, containing the relics of St. John Chrysostom, did not allow itself to be moved from its resting place until the emperor wrote a letter to Chrysostom begging him for forgiveness (for Theodosius’ mother, Eudoxia, was the culprit responsible for the banishment of this saint) and appealing to him to come to Constantinople, his former residence. When this letter of repentance was placed on the sarcophagus, its weight became extremely light. At the time of the translation of his relics, many who were ill and who touched the sarcophagus were healed. When the relics arrived in the capital, then the emperor in the name of his mother as though she herself was speaking over the relics, again, prayed to the saint for forgiveness. “While I lived in this transient life, I did you malice and, now, when you live the immortal life, be beneficial to my soul. My glory passed away and it helped nothing. Help me, father; in your glory, help me before I am condemned at the Judgment of Christ!” When the saint was brought into the Church of the Twelve Apostles and placed on the patriarchal throne, the masses of people heard the words from St. Chrysostom’s mouth saying: “Peace be to you all.” The translation of the relics of St. John Chrysostom took place in the year 438.
I am particularly struck by St. John’s writing about the priesthood. The priest, he wrote, must be “dignified, but not haughty; awe-inspiring, but kind; affable in his authority; impartial, but courteous; humble, but not servile, strong but gentle….”