Commemorated on July 25
the Deaconess was the daughter of the senator Anicius Secundus, and by her
mother she was the grand-daughter of the noted eparch Eulalios (he is mentioned
in the account about the miracles of Saint Nicholas). Before her marriage to
Anicius Secundus, Olympiada's mother had been married to the Armenian emperor
Arsak and became widowed. When Saint Olympiada was still very young, her
parents betrothed her to a nobleborn youth. The marriage was supposed to take
place when Saint Olympiada reached the age of maturity. The bridegroom soon
however died, and Saint Olympiada did not wish to enter into another marriage,
but instead preferred a life of virginity. After the death of her parents she
became the heir to great wealth, which she began top distribute with a general
hand to all the needy: the poor, the orphaned and the widowed; she likewise
gave significant monies to the churches, monasteries, hospices and shelters for
the downtrodden and the homeless.
Nektarios (381-397) appointed Saint Olympiada as a deaconess. The blessed saint
fulfilled her service honourably and beyond reproach.
provided great assistance to hierarchs coming to Constantinople ‑-
Amphylokhios, Bishop of Iconium, Onysimos of Pontum, Gregory the Theologian,
Saint Basil the Great's brother Peter of Sebasteia, Epiphanios of Cyprus – and
she attended to them all with great love. Her wealth she did not regard as her
own but rather God's, and she distributed not only to good people, but also to
Saint John Chrysostom
(+ 407, Comm. 13 November) had high regard for Saint Olympiada and he bestowed
her his good-will and spiritual love. And when this holy hierarch was
guiltlessly and unjustly banished, Saint Olympiada together with the other
deaconesses were deeply upset. Leaving the church for the last time, Saint John
Chrysostom called out to Saint Olympiada and the other deaconesses Pentadia,
Proklia and Salbina, and he said that the matters incited against him would
come to an end, but scarcely more would they see him. He asked them not to
abandon the church but instead be obedient to the bishop who would be appointed
in his place, since the Church is not able to be without bishop. The holy
women, shedding tears, fell down before the saint.
patriarch Theophilos (385-412), having repeatedly benefited formerly through
the generosity of Saint Olympiada, turned against her for her devotion to Saint
John Chrysostom, but also for the additional reason, that she had taken in and
fed monks arriving in Constantinople, whom Patriarch Theophilos had banished
from the Egyptian wilderness. He levelled unrighteous accusations against her
attempted to cast doubt on her holy life.
After the banishment
of Saint John Chrysostom, the cathedral church of Saint Sophia caught fire and
after this a large part of the city burnt down.
All the supporters of
Saint John Chrysostom came under suspicion of arson, and they were summoned for
interrogation. And then also did Saint Olympiada suffer. They summoned her to
trial, rigourously interrogating her, and although they did not produce any
proof, they sentenced her to payment of a large fine of money for the arson, of
which she was not guilty. After this the saint left Constantinople and set out
to Kyzikos (on the Sea of Marmara). But her enemies did not cease with their
persecution: in the year 405 they sentenced her to imprisonment at Nicomedia,
where the saint underwent much grief and deprivation. Saint John Chrysostom
wrote to her from his exile, consoling her in her sorrow. In the year 409 Saint
Olympiada died in imprisonment.
appeared in a dream to the Nicomedia bishop and commanded, that her body be
placed in a wooden coffin and cast into the sea: "Whither the waves carry
the coffin, there let my body be buried", – said the saint. The coffin
was brought by the waves to a place named Brokhti near to Constantinople. The
inhabitants, informed of this by God, took the holy relics of Saint Olympiada
and put them in the church of the holy Apostle Thomas. Afterwards, during the
time of an invasion of enemies, the church was burned, but the relics were
preserved and under the Patriarch Sergios (610-638) they were transferred to
Constantinople and put at the women's monastery founded by Saint Olympiada.
From her relics miracles occurred and healings made.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.