Feast Day: December 17
Born: (around) 361 :: Died: 408
Saint Olympias was born at Constantinople and belonged to a great and wealthy family. Her parents died when she was very young and she was given into the care of a wonderful Christian woman.
All her parent's wealth belonged to Olympias and she was also very sweet natured and pretty. So her uncle found it easy to marry her to Nebridius, a man who was the governor of Constantinople.
St. Gregory Nazianzen apologized for not being able to attend the wedding and sent Olympias a poem full of good advice.
But soon afterward Nebridius died and the emperor tried to help Olympias to marry again. Olympias refused. She said: "Had God wished me to remain a wife, he would not have taken Nebridius away." And she refused to marry again.
St. Gregory called her "the glory of the widows in the Eastern Church." With a number of other good women, Olympias spent her life doing works of charity.
She dressed plainly and prayed much. She gave her money away to everyone. Finally, St. John Chrysostom had to tell her to be careful when giving away her wealth. "You must not encourage the laziness of those who live upon you without necessity," he said. "It is like throwing your money into the sea."
St. John Chrysostom became archbishop of Constantinople. As their archbishop, he guided St. Olympias and her followers in their works. The women started a home for orphans and they opened a chapel. They were able to help great numbers of people.
St. John Chrysostom became Olympias' dearest guide. When he was sent away from Constantinople, she was very sad. Then she too had to suffer because of her support of him.
Her community of widows and single women was forced to stop their charitable works. Her house was taken away and sold and she was sent away to Nicomedia.
Besides this, Olympias was in poor health and was being criticized. St. John wrote to her: "I cannot stop calling you blessed. The patience and dignity with which you have borne your sorrows, your prudence, wisdom and charity have won you great glory and reward."
St. Olympias died in 408, when she was about forty. Someone described her as "a wonderful woman, like a precious vase filled with the Holy Spirit."
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