medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
After a brilliant career in Antioch as a preacher and writer John of the Golden Mouth was selected by the imperial court in the fall of 397 to fill the increasingly prestigious position of bishop of Constantinople, a see only recently recognized as a patriarchate (381). He was consecrated either very late in that year or early the next. But he had enemies, including the patriarch of Alexandria (then the senior ecclesiastical position in the East), and he made more, both in the city and in the court. John was deposed and briefly exiled in 403, was quickly recalled, and was exiled again in 404. Having spent most of this exile in Armenia, he was ordered in 407 to undergo yet further relegation at the outpost of Pityus on the Black Sea in today's Abkhazia. John never arrived there. Force-marched by guards across Anatolia and Pontus, he died _en route_ of illness and exhaustion on 14. September near Comana Pontica at a place that is now Bizeri in Turkey's Tokat province. There he was laid to rest in the church of St. Basiliscus.
Prompted by John's successor St. Proclus of Constantinople, in 438 emperor Theodosius II brought John's relics with great pomp to Constantinople and had them interred there in the church of the Holy Apostles. In a considerably less well documented later translation, relics of John and of St. Gregory Nazianzus believed to have come from Constantinople after the latter's change of management in 1204 wound up in old Rome at St. Peter's on the Vatican. In 2004 some of these were transferred ceremoniously to the ecumenical patriarch in Istanbul. Here's a view of their present resting place (John at right) in the latter's cathedral church of Agios Georgios:
And here they are being received in 2004 by His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew:
The Vatopedi monastery on Mount Athos has a skull venerated as John's:
Christ the Savior cathedral in Moscow has a skull venerated as John's (shown here on a visit to New York in 2010):
The Philotheou monastery on Mt. Athos has a right hand venerated as John's:
Two medieval images of John's translation to Constantinople in 438:
a) As depicted in the late tenth- or very early eleventh-century so-called Menologion of Basil II (Cittą del Vaticano, BAV, cod. Vat. gr. 1613, p. 353):
b) As depicted (upper register, upper right-hand panel) in an earlier fourteenth-century set of miniatures from Thessaloniki (betw. 1322 and 1340) for the Great Feasts (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Gr. th. f. 1, fol. 26v):
Those depicted in that panel's lower register are other saints of 27. January: Ananias of Phoenicia, Peter of Egypt, and Marciana, empress of the Romans.
John's having passed into eternal life on what would later be the day of a major feast, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, had consequences for his position in liturgical calendars from at least the ninth century onward. Orthodox churches and other eastern-rite churches observe John's principal feast on 13. November (postponed from 14. September); the Polish National Catholic Church also celebrates him on that day. In the general Roman Calendar his feast now falls on 13. September (anticipating by a day his _dies natalis_); the Church of England also celebrates him on that day. Prior to its revisions promulgated in 1969 the Roman calendar entered him under 27. January, the day on which Orthodox and other eastern-rite churches celebrate the translation of his remains to Constantinople in 438 and which the pre-2001 Roman Martyrology used to commemorate both that translation and the undated later one to Rome.
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