Saint of the day:
Saint John Chrysostom
Patron Saint of Constantinople, education, epilepsy, lecturers, orators, preachers
Saint John Chrysostom’s Story
The ambiguity and intrigue surrounding John, the great preacher (his name means “golden-mouthed”) from Antioch, are characteristic of the life of any great man in a capital city. Brought to Constantinople after a dozen years of priestly service in Syria, John found himself the reluctant victim of an imperial ruse to make him bishop in the greatest city of the empire. Ascetic, unimposing but dignified, and troubled by stomach ailments from his desert days as a monk, John became a bishop under the cloud of imperial politics.
If his body was weak, his tongue was powerful. The content of his sermons, his exegesis of Scripture, were never without a point. Sometimes the point stung the high and mighty. Some sermons lasted up to two hours.
His lifestyle at the imperial court was not appreciated by many courtiers. He offered a modest table to episcopal sycophants hanging around for imperial and ecclesiastical favors. John deplored the court protocol that accorded him precedence before the highest state officials. He would not be a kept man.
His zeal led him to decisive action. Bishops who bribed their way into office were deposed. Many of his sermons called for concrete steps to share wealth with the poor. The rich did not appreciate hearing from John that private property existed because of Adam’s fall from grace any more than married men liked to hear that they were bound to marital fidelity just as much as their wives were. When it came to justice and charity, John acknowledged no double standards.
Aloof, energetic, outspoken, especially when he became excited in the pulpit, John was a sure target for criticism and personal trouble. He was accused of gorging himself secretly on rich wines and fine foods. His faithfulness as spiritual director to the rich widow, Olympia, provoked much gossip attempting to prove him a hypocrite where wealth and chastity were concerned. His actions taken against unworthy bishops in Asia Minor were viewed by other ecclesiastics as a greedy, uncanonical extension of his authority.
Theophilus, archbishop of Alexandria, and Empress Eudoxia were determined to discredit John. Theophilus feared the growth in importance of the Bishop of Constantinople and took occasion to charge John with fostering heresy. Theophilus and other angered bishops were supported by Eudoxia. The empress resented his sermons contrasting gospel values with the excesses of imperial court life. Whether intended or not, sermons mentioning the lurid Jezebel and impious Herodias were associated with the empress, who finally did manage to have John exiled. He died in exile in 407.
St John Chrysostom
(d. 407, NE Turkey) (Relics: Rome, Italy; Florence, Italy; Istanbul, Turkey; Moscow, Russia; Mount Athos, Greece)
Cathedral of St George (Ecumenical Patriarchate)
Yavuz Sultan Selim Mh.
34083 Fatih/Istanbul Province, Turkey
*On November 27, 2004 a major part of the relics of St John Chrysostom and of St Gregory Nazianzen were returned to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople by St John Paul II and placed within this church.
St Peter’s Basilica
Chapel of the Immaculate Conception
*Also known as the Wedding Chapel or the Chapel of the Choir
*This is the third chapel on the left side of the nave.
*Some relics of St John Chrysostom rest below the altar within this chapel. In 2004 a major part of these relics were returned to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.
Cathedral of Christ the Savior
ул. Волхонка, 15
119019 Moscow, Russia
*The skull of St John Chrysostom is enshrined within this church. It was gifted to this church in the 17th century.
Duomo di Firenze
*Relics of the following four saints are said to be within the sacristy.
*The skull of St John Chrysostom (Acquired in 1360), the arm of St Andrew the Apostle (Acquired in the 14th century), the arm of St Philip the Apostle (Acquired in 1205), and the finger of St John the Baptist (Acquired in 1419).
*It is said that this is the same finger that St John the Baptist used to point at Jesus when he proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God.”
Mount Athos, Greece
*The skulls of both St John Chrysostom and St Gregory Nazianzen are said to rest within this monastery. They are preserved within ornate reliquaries.
We are celebrating with a Turkish recipe because our Saint was from Turkey.
Beef Koftas with Herb Couscous
500g British beef mince (see tip)
Large handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
1-2 tsp harissa to taste
Large handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
Greek yogurt to serve
Mix the mince with half the parsley, the garlic, ground coriander and cumin, then season generously. Roll into 12 sausage shapes, cover and chill. Put the couscous in a bowl, pour over boiling water to just cover (about 300ml), season generously and cover with cling film. Leave for 5-10 minutes, then fluff with a fork and add a drizzle of olive oil.
Meanwhile, heat the 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan. When hot, cook the koftas, turning occasionally, for 6-7 minutes, until crisp and cooked through. Remove to kitchen paper.
Stir the harissa into the couscous, then add the remaining parsley and the coriander and check the seasoning. Serve the koftas on the couscous with a dollop of Greek yogurt
Tip: Don't use lean mince for this recipe - a bit of fat keeps the koftas moist.