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November 13, 2020

The 47 Accusations Against St. John Chrysostom That Led to his Deposition and Exile


The proceedings of the infamous Synod of the Oak, that was unlawfully summoned against Saint John Chrysostom in June of 403, contained forty-seven accusations against him, and were summarized by Saint Photios the Great as contained in his Bibliotheca (59). The presidents were Theophilos, Bishop of Alexandria, Akakios of Beroea, Antiochus of Ptolemais, Severian of Gabala, and Cyrinus of Chalcedon, who were bitterly hostile to Chrysostom, and constituted themselves judges, accusers, and witnesses. There were thirteen sessions: twelve against Chrysostom, the thirteenth against Heraclides, whom Chrysostom had ordained Bishop of Ephesus.

The 29 Accusations Brought Against Archbishop John Chrysostom by Deacon John

The open enemy and chief accuser of Chrysostom was his deacon John. He first charged Chrysostom with

1. having wronged him by ejecting him for having beaten his own servant Eulalios;

2. the second charge was that a certain monk named John had been flogged by order of Chrysostom, dragged along, and put in chains like those possessed;

3. the third, that he had sold much valuable ecclesiastical property;

4. the fourth, that he had sold the marble which Nektarios had set aside for decorating the Church of Saint Anastasia;

5. the fifth, that he had reviled the clergy as dishonorable, corrupt, useless in themselves, and worthless;

6. the sixth, that he had called Saint Epiphanios a fool and a demon;

7. the seventh, that he had intrigued against Severian, and set the decani [monastic officials with ten monks under them] against him;

8. the eighth, that he had written a book slandering the clergy;

9. the ninth, that, having called all the clergy together, he had summoned three deacons, Akakios, Edaphios, and John, on a charge of having stolen his maphorion [an episcopal shoulder cape], and had asked whether they had taken it for any other purpose;

10. the tenth, that he had consecrated Antonius as bishop, although he had been convicted of robbing graves;

11. the eleventh, that he had denounced count John at a seditious meeting of the troops;

12. the twelfth, that he did not pray either when walking to the church or entering it;

13. the thirteenth, that he ordained deacons and priests without standing by the altar;

14. the fourteenth, that he consecrated four bishops at once;

15. the fifteenth, that he received visits from women by themselves, after he had sent everyone else out of the room;

16. the sixteenth, that he had sold by the agency of Theodoulos the inheritance left by Thekla;

17. the seventeenth, that no one knew how the revenues of the Church were spent;

18. the eighteenth, that he had ordained Serapion priest at a time when he was under accusation;

19. the nineteenth, that he paid no heed to those who belonged to the communion of the world, who had been imprisoned by his orders, and when they died in prison did not even condescend to make arrangements for the interment of their bodies;

20. the twentieth, that he had insulted the most holy Akakios, and refused to grant him an interview;

21. the twenty-first, that he had handed over the presbyter Porphyrios to Eutropios to be banished;

22. the twenty-second, that he had also handed over the presbyter Venerius and grievously insulted him;

23. the twenty-third, that a bath was heated for him alone, and that after he had bathed, Serapion emptied the bath, so that no one else might use it;

24. the twenty-fourth, that he had ordained many without witnesses;

25. the twenty-fifth, that he ate gluttonously alone, living like a Cyclops;

26. the twenty-sixth, that he himself was accuser, witness, and judge, as was evident from the case of Martyrios the proto-deacon, and Proaeresios, bishop of Lycia;

27. the twenty-seventh, that he struck Memnon with his fist in the Church of the Apostles, and while he bled at the mouth celebrated the communion;

28. the twenty-eighth, that he dressed and undressed on his throne, and ate a lozenge [Chrysostom advised the communicants to eat a lozenge (or little cake) to avoid spitting out any of the sacrament];

29. the twenty-ninth, that he bribed the bishops who were consecrated by him to oppress the clergy.

Such were the charges against this holy man. He was four times summoned, but refused to appear. He declared that, if the synod would remove his open enemies from the list of judges, he was ready to appear and defend himself against any charges brought against him; if they refused to do so, no matter how many times they summoned him, it would be of no avail.

The 18 Accusations Brought Against Archbishop John Chrysostom by Archimandrite Isaac

Then Archimandrite Isaac, an abbot of Constantinople who openly opposed Chrysostom and convinced many monks of Constantinople to violently oppose him as well, brought the following charges against Chrysostom:

1. That the monk John, already mentioned [in the 2nd accusation above], had been flogged and put in chains through the Origenists;

2. that Epiphanios refused to hold communion with him on account of his connection with the Origenists Ammonios, Euthymios, Eusebius, Heraclides, and Palladius;

3. that he neglected the duties of hospitality and always ate alone;

4. that in church he used such language as "the table is full of furies";

5. that he loudly exclaimed, "I am in love, I am mad";

6. that he ought to explain what "furies" he referred to, and what he meant by "I am in love, I am mad," expressions unknown to the Church;

7. that he licensed people to sin, since he taught, "If thou sin again, repent again," and, "As often as thou sinnest, come to me and I will heal thee";

8. that he uttered blasphemy while in the Church, asserting that the prayer of Christ was not heard, since He did not pray in a proper manner;

9. that he stirred up the people to reject the authority of the synod;

10. that he had welcomed a number of heathens who had oppressed the Christians, kept them in the church, and afforded them protection;

11. that he had encroached upon the provinces of others, and consecrated bishops there;

12. that he had insulted the bishops, and ordered the bishops and ἐκπιγγάτους to be ejected from his house;

13. that he had subjected the clergy to unheard of insults;

14. that he had violently appropriated sums of money left to others;

15. that he performed ordinations without a meeting of the clergy and contrary to their wish;

16. that he had received the Origenists, but allowed those who were in communion with the Church and had come to him with letters of recommendation to be cast into prison without obtaining their release, and even if they died there, took no further notice of them;

17. that he had consecrated as bishops foreign slaves not yet emancipated and, in some cases, under accusation;

18. that he himself [Isaac] had often been ill-treated by him.

The members present, forty-five in all, many of whom were Syrian and Egyptian bishops inimical to Chrysostom brought by Theophilos, then recorded their opinion, beginning with Bishop Gymnasios and ending with Theophilos of Alexandria. It was unanimously decided that Chrysostom should be deprived of his episcopate.

Chrysostom refused to recognize the legality of a synod in which his open enemies were judges. After the third summons Chrysostom, with the consent of the emperor, was declared to be deposed. In order to avoid useless bloodshed, he surrendered himself on the third day to the soldiers who awaited him, causing riots to explode by Chrysostom's supporters throughout Constantinople. But the threats of the excited people, and a sudden "accident in the imperial palace" (in fact a miscarriage), frightened the empress Eudoxia. She feared some punishment from heaven for Chrysostom's exile, and immediately ordered his recall. After some hesitation, Chrysostom re-entered the capital amid the great rejoicing of the people. Theophilos and his party saved themselves by fleeing from Constantinople.

Chrysostom's enemies, though, did not rest, and soon succeeded in having him deposed and exiled a second time, on 24 June 404. Saint John Chrysostom's last words, delivered on September 14th as he lay dying on the road to exile, were "Glory be to God for all things!"