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IOHANNES CHRYSOSTOMUS:  text is taken from Caxton's English version of the Golden Legend (Ellis edition)

Life of S. John Chrysostom

Here followeth the Life of S. John Chrysostom.

John Chrysostom was of Antioch, and was born of noble kindred, of whom the life, the lineage, the conversation, and the persecution, is more plainly contained in the History Tripartite. When he had been in the study of philosophy, he left it and gave himself to the service of God, and was made a priest. And for the love of chastity he was reputed old, for he entended more to the burning love of God than to the outerward debonairty, and for the righteousness of his life he entended most to the things to come, and was deemed proud of them that knew him not. He was noble in teaching, he was wise in expounding, and right good in refraining of vain manners. Arcadius and Honorius reigned then in the empire, and Damasus sat then in the see of Rome. And when Chrysostom was made bishop of Constantinople, he began to correct hastily the life of clerks, and therefore all they were moved and stirred to hate him, and eschewed him as he had been a madman, and spake evil of him. And because he would not bid them to dine and eat with him, ne would not eat with them, they said that he did it because he ate his meat so foul, and the other said that he did it for the excellence and noblesse of his meats. And the truth was because that his stomach was oft sore and grieved, wherefore he eschewed the great dinners and the feasts. And the people loved him much for the good sermons that he made to them, and set little by that his enemies said. Then Chrysostom began to reprove some of the barons, and therefore the envy was the more against him. And yet he did other things that moved yet more. For Eutropius, provost of the empire, which had the dignity of consul, would have avenged him on some that fled to the church for succour, and studied that a law should be ordained by the emperor that none should flee to the church, and that they that had been therein tofore should be drawn out. And a little while after, Eutropius had trespassed to the emperor, and fled anon to the church, and when the bishop heard thereof, he came to him, which was hid under the altar, and made a homily against him, in the which he reproved him right sharply. And therefore many were wroth, because he would do no mercy to that cursed man, and yet he did nothing but chide. And when the emperor saw his will, he made Eutropius to be borne out of the church, and did do smite off his head. And he reproved sharply many men for divers causes, and therefore he was hateful to many. And Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria, would have deposed John Chrysostom, and would have set in his see Isidore the priest, and therefore he sought diligently cause to depose him. And the people, that were fed marvellously with the doctrine of S. John, defended him strongly. And John Chrysostom constrained the priests to live after the holy ordinances of Holy Church, and said that they should not use the honour of priesthood, for they despised the life of a priest and would not follow it. And John governed not only the bishopric of Constantinople, but he ordained to the other provinces by authority of the emperor such laws were much profitable. And then when he knew that yet the people sacrificed about the other provinces to the devils, he sent thither monks and clerks, and made them destroy all the temples of the idols.

In that same time was a man which was made master of the chivalry, and was named Gaimas, of the lineage of Celtic barbarians, which strongly was lifted up, and by study of tyranny was corrupt of the heresy Arian. And that same Gaimas prayed the emperor that he would give to him a church within the city for him and his to make in their prayers. And when the emperor had granted him, he came to John Chrysostom for to have a church as was granted to him by the emperor, but John, which was strong in virtue and all embraced in the love of God, said to the emperor: Promise not, ne give no such thing, ne holy thing unto dogs. And dread thee nothing of this barbarian, but command that we both two be called tofore thee, and take heed what shall be said between us both softly, for I shall so refrain him that he shall no more dare demand such thing. And when the emperor heard this he was glad, and the next day he did do call that one and that other. And as an orator required for him, John said: The house of God is open in every place to thee, whereas no man is warned to adore and pray. And he said: I am of another law, and make request that I may have a temple for myself; for I have emprised many travails for the common profit of Rome, and therefore I ought not to be warned of my petition. And John said to him: Thou hast received many rewards which amount to more than thy pains, and hast been made master of the knights, and clad with the adornments of consul, and it behoveth thee to consider what thou wert late and what thou art now, and thy rather poverty, and thy riches now, and what clothing thou usedest tofore, and what array thou wearest now. And because that a little labour hath given to thee so great rewards, be not now disagreeable to him that hath so much honoured thee. And by such manner words he stopped his mouth and constrained him to be still. And as S. John governed nobly the city of Constantinople, this same Gaimas coveted the empire, and because he might do nothing by day he sent by night his barbarians for to burn the palace. And then it was well showed how S. John kept the city, for a great company of angels, which had great bodies and were armed, appeared to the barbarians and chased them away anon. And when they had told to their lord that which was happed, he marvelled strongly, for he knew well that the host of the other knights were spread in other cities. And then he sent them the second time, and they were rechased again by the vision of the angels. And at the last he issued himself with them and saw the miracle and fled, and supposed they had been knights that had by day-time been within, and had watched by night. And then he went to Tarsus with great strength, and wasted and destroyed all the country, so that all the people dreaded the cruelty of the barbarians. And then the emperor committed to S. John the charge of his legation, and he, not remembering the enmity between them, went forth joyously. And Gaimas, which knew the truth of him, came to meet him on the way, for he knew well that he came for pity, and took him by the hand, and kissed his mouth and his eyes, and commanded his sons that they should kiss his holy knees. And he was of such virtue and so holy that he constrained the most cruel men to dread him.

In this time when these things were done S. John flourished in Constantinople by doctrine, and was holden marvellous of all them of the sect of the Arians, which then increased greatly. And they had a church without the city, and on the Saturday and Sunday they would sing within the gates, by night, hymns and anthems, and on the morn they would go through the city singing anthems, and issued by the gates and entered into their church, and ceased not to do thus in despite of christian men, and sung oft this song: Where be they that say one only to be three things by his virtue? And then John doubted that by this song simple men might be deceived, and ordained that the good christian people should go by night with tapers, torches, and lanterns, singing glorious hymns of the church that, the evil works of the others might be destroyed, and the faith of the good men might be aflirmed. And did do make crosses of gold and of silver which were borne, with tapers burning. And then the sect of the Arians, embraced with envy rebelled unto the death, so that Brison, on a night, which was chamberlain of the emperor, was smitten with a stone, who was ordained by S. John Chrysostom for to go with the hymns, and of the people were many slain on that one party and on that other. Then the emperor moved by these things, defended that the Arians should sing no more hymns in common. And after, this holy man suffered great persecution for righteousness and true doctrine, and was exiled and after repealed again. And yet after, for envy he was exiled again. And so, after many a great labour and noble doctrine he ended his life, being in exile, the fourteenth day of September. And when he was passed, a strong hail fell in Constantinople upon the city and upon the suburbs, which did much harm, and then all the people said it was done by wrath of God for the wrongful exiling and condemning of the holy man S. John Chrysostom, and that was showed well by the death of the empress, his greatest enemy, which died the fourth day after the hail. And when this noble doctor of the church was passed out of this world, the bishops of the west would in no wise commune ne have to do with the bishops of the east till that, the name of that holy man S. John was set among the bishops his predecessors. And then Theodosius, a right good christian man, son of the said emperor, which held the name and party of his grandsire, did do bring the holy relics of this doctor in to the royal city with tapers and lights. Then Theodosius did do put and bury the said body of S. John Chrysostom in the church of S. Sophia in the month of January. And all the people went to meet with it, and accompanied it with torches and lights. And then Theodosius worshipped devoutly the holy relics, and visited oft his sepulchre, praying to the holy saint to pardon Arcadius his father, and Eudoxia his mother, and to forgive them that they had done ignorantly against him. And they were dead long tofore. This emperor was of so great debonairty that he judged no man to death that had offended him, and said that his will was to call the dead to life again if he might. It seemed that his court was a monastery, for therein were said continually matins and lauds, and he read the books divine. And his wife was called Eudoxia, he had also a daughter named Eudoxia whom he gare to wife to Valentinian, whom he made emperor. And all these things be written more plainly in the History Tripartite. And this holy holy man S. John Chrysostom passed about the year of our Lord three hundred and ninety.

© The segmented texts, annotations and audio files at are copyrighted by Laura Gibbs, 2006. No copyright is claimed for any images.