John was called "Chrysostom" ("Golden Mouth") because of his
eloquence. He was Bishop of Antioch, and an outstanding preacher.
(Audiences were warned not to carry large sums of money when they
went to hear him speak, since pickpockets found it very easy to rob
his hearers -- they were too intent on his words to notice what was
happening.) His sermons are mostly straightforward expositions of
Holy Scripture (he has extensive commentaries on both Testaments,
with special attention to the Epistles of Paul), and he emphasizes
the literal meaning, whereas the style popular at Alexandria tended
to read allegorical meanings into the text. He loved the city and
people of Antioch, and they loved him. However, he became so famous
that the Empress at Constantinople decided that she must have him
for her court preacher, and she had him kidnapped and brought to
Constantinople and there made bishop. This was a failure all around.
His sermons against corruption in high places earned him powerful
enemies (including the Empress), and he was sent into exile, where
he died. Along with Athanasius of Alexandria, Basil the Great, and
Gregory of Nazianzus, he is counted as one of the Four Great Eastern
(or Greek) Doctors of the Ancient Church. The Four Great Western (or
Latin) Doctors are Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Gregory the
John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople,
Teacher of the Faith, 407
picture from 13th c. manuscript. Historical Museum, Moscow, Ms. 604.