2007 Archive Edition - See the Archive Notice on the Project Homepage for more information.
Olympias the Deaconess
St. Olympias (c. 361/68-c. 408/410), friend and supporter of John Chrysostom, was born into a noble family in Constantinople. Orphaned at a young age, she inherited a great fortune and was left to the guardianship of Theodora, sister of Amphilocius of Iconium, and Procopius, a friend of Gregory of Nazianzus. In 384, she was married to Nebridius, a city official, and Gregory wrote an epithalamion for the couple. Nebridius died c. 386 (some say he died within 20 days of the wedding), and Olympias devoted herself and her wealth to the service of the church. She refused to marry Elpidus, a relative of Theodosius I, and the emperor put her fortune into trust until she was 30. Patriarch Nectarius ordained her a deaconess, although she was not of canonical age, in 391, the year that she regained control of her worldly goods. She established near Hagia Sophia a domestic community that grew into a monastery. She encouraged Gregory of Nyssa in his work, and he dedicated a section of his commentary on the Song of Songs to her. After the Council of the Oak deposed John Chrysostom (404), Olympias sent him money and encouragement. Optatus, prefect of Constantinople, fined her for refusing to accept Acacius as a legitimate successor to Chrysostom. She went, possibly as a voluntary exile, to Nicomedia c. 405. She died there and was interred at St. Thomas of Brochthoi monastery.
Atticus, successor to Acacius, disbanded her community, and the building was destroyed in the 534 Nike revolt. Justinian restored the monastery five years later, and in the VII Century, Igumena Sergia translated Olympias' relics from the Bosphorus to Constantinople. She also wrote an account of the event.
Karen Rae Keck
including the header and this copyright remain intact.