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Life of Saint Olympias the Deaconess
from "The Prologue from Ohrid"


by Saint Nikolai Velimirovitch


San Martin Fine Art, USA - Lazarica Press, UK


Olympias was born in Constantinople of very eminent parents. Her father, Anysius Secundus, was a senator and her mother was the daughter of the famous aristocrat Eulavius, who is mentioned in the life of St Nicolas the Wonderworker. When Olympias was fully grown, she was betrothed to a nobleman who died before his marriage to this honoured maiden. The Emperor and others exhorted her to take another husband, but in vain; she refused them all and devoted herself to a life pleasing to God, giving of her inherited wealth great gifts to the Church and alms to the poor.

She served in the Church as a deaconess, first in the time of Patriarch Nectarius and, after his death, under St John Chrysostom. When Chrysostom went into exile, he advised Olympias to remain in the Church as before and serve it, whichever Patriarch should succeed him. But, immediately after the exile of this great hierarch, someone set fire to a large church, and the conflagration took hold of many of the public buildings in the capital. Chrysostom's enemies accused this holy woman of being a malicious fire-raiser.

Olympias was exiled from Constantinople to Nicomedia, where she entered into rest in 408, leaving instructions that her body be placed in a coffin and cast into the sea, and that she be buried wherever the waves threw the coffin up. The coffin was cast up at a place called Vrochthoi, where there was a church dedicated to the Apostle Thomas. Great miracles of healing have been performed through the centuries by her relics.

The exiled Chrysostom wrote beautiful letters to the exiled Olympias, which to this day serve to give support to all who suffer for God's justice. Among other things, Chrysostom wrote to Olympias: 'Now I am deeply joyful, not only because you have been delivered from sickness, but even more because you are bearing adversities with such fortitude, calling them trifles - a characteristic of a soul filled with power and abounding in the rich fruits of courage. You are not only enduring misfortune with fortitude, but are making light of it in a seemingly effortless way, rejoicing and triumphing over it - this is a proof of the greatest wisdom'(Letter 6 of the seventeen that have come down to us)

Feastday - July 25


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