Mother of John Chrysostom circa. 347-407
Anthusa was an intelligent woman living in the city of Antioch in the 4th Century A.D. She was a woman of means, being married to Secundus, an illustrious officer in the Imperial Army of Syria. The city of Antioch was the starting point of the Apostle Paul’s three missionary journeys and was one of the four chief cities of the Roman Empire. Of its population of about two hundred thousand, half were thought to have been Christian.
It was in this setting that Anthusa bore a son who she named John. While John was an infant, Secundus died, leaving her widowed when she was about twenty years old. Although she had the means to give her son a good education, she dreaded bringing him up amid the corruptions of Antioch and decided to teach him at home for a time. But the burden of rearing him, she later declared, was lightened for her by God’s support and the joy of seeing in him the image of his father.
Anthusa decided not to marry again, feeling that her child must come before her own happiness. She devoted her life to her son, who showed high intelligence and a love for beauty. It was her goal to nurture in him the highest quality of Christian character. In his early years she taught him to love the Bible and encouraged him to study and learn it. She instilled in him an intimate knowledge of the Scriptures which served to help him later in life.
Anthusa herself was a highly educated woman and transmitted much of her classical knowledge to her son. When the time was right, she sent him to the celebrated orator Libanius to study further. As he grew into a man, she also encouraged him to pursue a career as a preacher and expositor of the Bible, inspiring him to study theology under the noted Diodore of Tarsus. While John did study under great men of his time period, the spiritual interpretations and the practical applications found in his great homilies on Genesis, Matthew, John, Romans, Galatians, Corinthians, Ephesians, Timothy, and Titus owe much to his mother’s early teachings
John went on to become one of the great Christian Leaders of his time, earning the name Chrysostom, meaning “Golden-Mouthed”. Though he reveled in his classical education, it was the things of the Spirit he learned at his mother’s home that he credited for giving him the foundation he needed to succeed as a minister of the Gospel and becoming the man that he was.