Saint John Chrysostom was born about the year 347, in Antioch, Syria, the son of a high-ranking military officer who died soon after his birth. His mother, left a widow at 20, spent her time caring for her two children and in the practice of the Christian faith.
Saint John was educated in rhetoric and law, having the best teachers available at the time and excelling at his studies. He was baptized when 20 years old and soon thereafter joined a community of hermits who lived in the mountains close by. After spending seven years in the desert, he had to return to the city due to poor health. There, he was ordained a deacon and later, in 386, a priest.
His fame as a holy priest spread abroad and, in 397, John was elected Archbishop of Constantinople. Here he underwent many trials and persecutions, having as his main adversaries the Archbishop of Alexandria, whose nominee for the position had been supplanted by Saint John, and the Empress Eudoxia, who felt threatened by his preaching against extravagance and vanity. He was exiled twice because of these persecutions and died in 407, during the second exile, while being taken to Pityus, a town on the eastern shores of the Black Sea. The night before his death, Saint Basiliscus, who had been martyred in 308, appeared to him and said, “Courage brother! Tomorrow we shall be together.”
As a priest, Saint John Chrysostom, cared for the poor and preached several sermons a week. As an archbishop, the saint preached fearlessly against immodesty and idolatry. He also founded several communities of devout women, reformed the clergy, set an example by leading himself an austere life, and cut down the expenses of his household, applying the income to the relief of the poor and support of hospitals .
Saint John was surnamed Chrysostom (golden mouthed) due to his eloquence, was declared a Doctor of the Universal Church at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, and was named patron of preachers by Pope Pius X.