12/17/2021 – St. Olympias

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. Her feast day is December 17th.

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