A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
St John Chrysostom (Ἰωάννης ὁ Χρυσόστομος, golden-mouthed, Chrysostemos) (344-407). Catholic, Lutheran and some other Western Churches’ Commemoration and Church of England Lesser Festival for the Early Church Father because the date of his death is occupied by the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. He was a great preacher born in Antioch, in the East commemorated as one of the Three Holy Hierarchs alongside Basil the Great and Gregory of Nazianzus, and an Ecumenical Teacher, and in the West as a Bishop and Doctor of the Church. He was thought responsible for leading a mob that destroyed the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, for the second and final time and he was referred to as the destroyer of the demons and overthrower of the temple of Diana. Baptised in his twenties, he spent two years as a hermit around 375. Tonsured in the minor order of reader, he was ordained deacon in 381 and presbyter in 386. In 397, John was appointed Archbishop of Constantinople and this simple monk found himself embroiled in the workings of the empire. He, however, managed to stay focused on the needs of the Church, supporting the destruction of pagan temples and shrines in Phoenicia. John Chrysostom died in the city of Comana (Cappadocia), in the Presbyterium (community) of the clergy of the church of Saint Basiliscus of Comana, on 14 September 407, on his way into exile by his enemies, who included Theophilus the Partriarch of Alexandria, in Pitiunt (Pithyus in modern Georgia). His last words are said to have been: “Δόξα τῷ Θεῷ πάντων ἕνεκεν” (Glory be to God for all things). There his relics remained until 438 when they were translated to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople under the guidance of John’s disciple, Proclus, who by then had become Archbishop of Constantinople. Most of John’s relics were looted from Constantinople by Crusaders in 1204 and taken to Rome, but some of his bones were returned to the Orthodox Church on 27 November 2004 to be enshrined in the Church of St George, Istanbul. The skull, however, having been kept at the monastery at Vatopedi on Mount Athos in northern Greece, was not among the relics that were taken by the Crusaders. In 1655, it was taken to Russia and was kept at the Moscow Kremlin, in the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God, until 1920 when it was confiscated by the Soviets and placed in the Museum of Silver Antiquities until 1988. Today, the monastery at Vatopedi posits a rival claim to possessing the skull of John Chrysostom, and there a skull is venerated by pilgrims to the monastery as that of Saint John. Two sites in Italy also claim to have the saint’s skull: the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence and the Dal Pozzo chapel in Pisa. The right hand of Saint John may be preserved on Mount Athos, and numerous smaller relics are scattered throughout the world. Venerated in Catholic, Eastern Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodoxy, Assyrian Church of the East, Ancient Church of the East, Anglican Communion, Lutheranism. Feast Byzantine Christianity 14 September (Departure), 13 November (Celebration transferred from 14 September and the date the news of John Chrysostom’s death reached Constantinople), 27 January (Translation of Relics from Comana to Constantinople), 30 January (Synaxis of the Three Holy Hierarchs). Feast Coptic Christianity 17 Hathor (Departure), 16 Thout (Translocation of Relics), 12 Pashons (Commemoration of Relocation of Relics from Comana to Constantinople). Alternative Feast Western Christianity 27 January. Repose celebrated on 14 September. John Chrysostom’s tomb in Comana is a shrine for pilgrims. Patron of Constantinople, education, epilepsy, lecturers, orators, preachers. Image: christianitytoday.com.
Prayer O Lord Jesus Christ, open the eyes of my heart that I may hear Your word and understand and do Your will, for I am a sojourner upon the Earth. Hide not Your commandments from me, but open my eyes, that I may perceive the wonders of Your law. Speak unto me the hidden and secret things of Your wisdom. On You do I set my hope, O my God, that You shall enlighten my mind and understanding with the light of Your knowledge, not only to cherish those things which are written, but to do them, for You are the enlightenment of those who lie in darkness, and from You comes every good deed and every gift. Amen
St Wilfrida of Wilton (Wulfthryth) (c937-1000). Celtic and Catholic Feast Day for the Catholic English Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who was living an exemplary life of sanctity and virtue as a novice when King Edgar of England (St Edgar the Peaceful) carried her off from the nunnery at Wilton Abbey and took to his residence at Kemsing, near Sevenoaks, where she gave birth to a daughter, Edith. After over a year, Wilfrida returned to Wilton Abbey, taking Edith with her and she took the veil at the hands of St Ethelwold. As a nun, and later the Abbess of Wilton, Wilfrida did penance and made ample amends for the irregularity of her liaison with Edgar and she outlived her daughter. Edgar did penance for his crime by not wearing his crown for seven years and he gave Wilfrida six estates in Wiltshire and on the Isle of Wight that she passed on to Wilton Abbey in 965. As Abbess of Wilton, she built a stone wall around the Abbey and also used her wealth to build up the Abbey’s collection of relics. She was called the hidden treasure and light of the Abbey and held in high esteem during her life, during which she was credited with miracles and praised for alms-giving. Wilfrida died at Wilton on 21 September 1000 and was buried before the main altar of the Wilton Abbey church. Both Wilfrida and her daughter Edith were regarded as saints after their lifetimes. Venerated locally in Wiltshire. Image: en.wikipedia.org.
St Theneva of Glasgow (Thaney, Teneu). Celtic Feast Day for Sixth-Century Venicone princess of the ancient kingdom of Gododdin (present-day Lothian), the mother of St Kentigern, the Apostle to the Britons of Strathclyde. Teneu has been described as Scotland’s first recorded rape victim, battered woman and unmarried mother. Her son was conceived when the Welsh Prince Owain mab Urien raped her, when he was disguised as a woman and deceived the naïve princess by saying: “Weep not, my sister, for I have not known thee as a man is used to know a virgin. Am I not a woman like thyself?” Upon discovering her pregnancy, her angry father sentenced her to death but she miraculously survived being hurled a nearby cliff and so was set adrift in a coracle that drifted over twenty miles in heavy seas to Culross, where she was given shelter in the community of St Serf, where she gave birth to and raised her son Kentigern, whom Serf called Mungo (very dear one). She and her son founded the City of Glas Ghu (Glasgow) and are regarded as the city’s co-patrons, Glasgow’s St Enoch (Teneu) Square allegedly marking the site of a medieval chapel dedicated to her that was built on or near to her grave. The cult that grew up around St Theneva in Glasgow also developed in Wales where it was held that she had had other sons by her marriage to a northern Prince and that her daughter St Winifred was Abbess of Gwytherin (Clwyd). Kentigern was also a cult figure in Clwyd. Feast Day 18 July Antiochian Orthodox Church. Image: lifewellwandered.com.