July 25, 2016

Synaxarion of Saint Olympia the Deaconess

On the twenty-fifth of this month [July], we commemorate the Venerable and Blessed Olympia the Deaconess.


Olympia was attacked by her beloved homeland,
Now she runs rejoicing to her homeland above.

Olympia flourished during the reign of Theodosius the Great (379-395) and Arcadius (395-408) his son. She was the daughter of Secundus the count, the granddaughter of Eulalios the eparch, and the bride for a short time of Nebridius the son of an eparch, but did not become his wife.

When she was still a virgin, her bridegroom died,* thus remaining a virgin and a widow, spending her life in fasting and prayer and giving alms to the poor. The blessed one gave her entire inheritance to help the Hierarchs of God. She honored differently from others the blessed John Chrysostom. Wherefore the divine Chrysostom sent to her many sweetly-worded epistles. At the end of her life this Saint was adorned with the crown of confession. On behalf of the truth, she was unjustly exiled, where the thrice-blessed one came to an end and departed to the Lord.**


* Some believe that Saint Gregory the Theologian wrote a poem for her wedding.

** Her support for John Chrysostom led her to being exiled in 404, which resulted in her 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.

Upon her repose, her memory was celebrated by many since she was very charitable due to her considerable wealth. Olympia appeared in a dream to the Bishop of Nicomedia and commanded that her body be placed in a wooden coffin and cast into the sea. "Wherever the waves carry the coffin, there let my body be buried," said the Saint. As requested, the coffin was tossed into the sea and was brought by the waves to a place named Brokthoi, a suburban shore near Constantinople. The inhabitants, informed of this by God, took the holy relics of Olympia and placed them in the Monastery and Church of the Holy Apostle Thomas.

Afterwards, somewhere between 616-620 AD, the church was burned during an invasion of the Persians, but the relics were preserved. Under the Patriarch Sergius (610-638), the relics were translated to the Convent of the 'House of Olympia' in Constantinople, founded by Olympia. Many miracles and healings were recorded by this Monastery attributed to her relics.

Apolytikion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Most Holy Olympia, counselor to patriarchs, deaconess and friend of the divine Chrysostom, you are like a tower, a haven, and a wall of defense, as you speak to all in the eloquent voice of your example. You are rich in the fruits of courage, patience and serenity, with the force of virtue as your rudder. You are a patron of the poor and a defender of the faith. Through the power of your philosophic soul, intercede with Christ, our God, to save our souls.