December 17


Saint of the day:
Saint Olympias

Saint Olympias' Story

Olympias born into a wealthy noble Constantinople family. She was orphaned when a child and was given over to the care of Theodosia by her uncle, the prefect Procopius. She married Nebridius, also a prefect, was widowed soon after, refused several offers of marriage, and had her fortune put in trust until she was thirty by Emperor Theodosius when she also refused his choice for a husband. When he restored her estate in 391, she was consecrated deaconess and with several other ladies founded a community. She was so lavish in her almsgiving that her good friend St. John Chrysostom remonstrated with her and when he became Patriarch of Constantinople in 398, he took her under his direction. She established a hospital and an orphanage, gave shelter to the expelled monks of Nitria, and was a firm supporter of Chrysostom when he was expelled in 404 from Constantinople and refused to accept the usurper Arsacius as Patriarch. She was fined by the prefect, Optatus, for refusing to accept Arsacius, and Arsacius' successor, Atticus, disbanded her community and ended her charitable works. She spent the last years of her life beset by illness and persecution but comforted by Chrysostom from his place of exile. She died in exile in Nicomedia on July 25, less than a year after the death of Chrysostom. 

Olympias, also known as Saint Olympias and sometimes known as Olympias the Younger to distinguish her from her aunt of the same name (Greek: Ὀλυμπιάς, sometime between 361 and 368-July 25, 408) was a Christian Roman noblewoman of Greek descent.

Olympias was born and raised either in Constantinople or Antioch. She was the daughter born to the Antiochian Greek noblewoman, Alexandra and the wealthy Greek Rhetor, Seleucus. Olympias had a sibling, who was a parent of Olympias and Seleucus. Olympias was the namesake of her late paternal aunt Olympias who was once engaged to the Roman emperor Constans who later married the Roman Client King of Arsacid Armenia Arsaces II (Arshak II). The paternal grandfather of Olympias was Flavius Ablabius who had held consular rank in Constantinople, while her maternal uncle was Calliopius the Rhetor who served as a grammaticus and assistant-teacher under the Rhetor, historian Libanius and later served as a Roman official under the Roman emperors Constantius II and Julian the Apostate.

Olympias is described as the ‘beloved daughter’ born to Seleucus and Alexandra. At eighteen years of age, Olympias married a nobleman called Nebridius who served as Prefect of Constantinople. But after two years of marriage, her husband died. After refusing many offers of marriage,[11] she dedicated her life to the church, serving as a deaconess. She would later become a friend of Saint John Chrysostom.

Her good works included building a hospital, an orphanage and even looking after Monks who had been led in exile from Nitria. All of this even led to John Chrysostom telling her that she had done almost too much. Her support for John Chrysostom led her to being exiled in 404, which resulted her in losing her house and living the rest of her life in exile at Nicomedia, where she would die on July 25, 408, after a long illness. Olympias is one of the 140 Colonnade saints which adorn Saint Peter's Square.

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