Augustine Sokolovski

The late autumn celebration of the memory of John Chrysostom is both solemn and sad. Historically, it is timed to coincide with the return of the saint to Constantinople after his first deposition from the see in 403. Then the powers that be were forced to yield to the demands of the People of God and asked John to return to the City.

Over time, this particular date became a special day in his memory. After all, the saint departed to the Lord on September 14 (27), but on this day, by an amazing coincidence of the fates of history, the Church eventually began to celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Since, according to the liturgical rules, the days of remembrance of saints and the greatest holidays cannot be celebrated at the same time, the memory of Chrysostom was postponed.

Another date for the memory of John (January 27 (February 9)) is associated with the transfer of John’s relics from his resting place in Pontic Comana to Constantinople. It took place in 438, that is, 31 years after the tragic death of the saint from exhaustion on the way from the capital to exile. By that time, John had been deposed from his see and was subjected to conciliar condemnation of the Church on many false accusations.

After his expulsion, many of his adherents remained in Constantinople, who, contrary to the words of John himself during his lifetime, who always called for peace and unity, did not want to return to church communion until justice was restored.

Some ancient liturgical calendars call John a martyr, but he was not a martyr, because he suffered from his own people, from Orthodox Christians like him. After his death, many were ready to venerate him as a saint, but such glorification of him on earth would have no weight before God. After all, the culprits of his premature death were both the powers that be and the church hierarchy of that time. Therefore, from the point of view of biblical ethics, it was necessary not only to glorify John as a saint, but also to bring repentance for what was done against him.

At the same time, the Roman Church, which always supported John in his misadventures, categorically refused to restore Eucharistic communion with the Eastern Churches until his name, as Bishop of Constantinople, was restored in the lists of commemoration of primates, in church language called diptychs.

Bishop Alexander of Antioch agreed to do this first, in 413, then Atticus of Constantinople followed his example in 417–418. Cyril of Alexandria, who, following the example of his uncle Bishop Theophilus, sharply condemned Chrysostom and even compared him to Judas, gave in last in 419.

Finally, in 438, Saint Proclus of Constantinople (434-446), who always publicly called himself a disciple of Chrysostom, and who himself, before his election, endured many hardships, obtained from Emperor Theodosius II the Younger (408-450) consent to return the body of the saint to the capital from the place of exile, and at the same time to ask John for forgiveness. The emperor publicly asked for forgiveness for himself and his mother, empress Eudoxia, and Proclus repented on behalf of the Church.

Then the relics of John Chrysostom were placed in the Cathedral of the Holy Peace, as the churches in honor of the Lord Jesus were then called. It seemed to the witnesses of those events that the saint himself, in response to the words of repentance, opened his lips and said: “Peace be with you all.”