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John Chrysostom

347 - 407

John Chrysostom, born in Antioch around 347, was raised by his widowed mother and educated in rhetoric, Greek, and literature. He quit the pagan school to study theology and pursue life as a hermit, but the health consequences of his ascetic lifestyle forced him to return to Antioch, where he was ordained a deacon and then a presbyter. There he became famous for his sermons, which set an early example of exegetical, expositional, practical preaching, departing from the allegorical style of the time. He was made archbishop of Constantinople in 397. He preached against abuses of power and wealth, refused to lead an opulent lifestyle, and encouraged other clergy to do the same. These and other admonitions brought the ire of the empress upon him, and he was deposed and banished, and on his way to exile at the eastern end of the Black Sea, he died in 407. His legacy as an eloquent and persuasive preacher, preserved in hundreds of homilies, gained him the surname ‘Chrysostom’, Greek for ‘golden mouth’.