Gave her Live and Wealth to Philanthropy
368 – 404 A.D.
Olympias was the daughter of a wealthy lord belonging to the court of Theodosius the Great, and was married to the emperor’s treasurer. She was early left a widow, and, owing to her wealth and beauty, was sought in marriage by many of the noblemen. She refused them all, among them a relative of the emperor. This so displeased him, that her property was taken from her and placed in the hands of a city official of Constantinople, with orders that he act as her guardian.
Her calm response reveals her character. “Your goodness toward me has been that of an emperor and a bishop, in thus relieving me from the heavy burden of my property. Add to that goodness by dividing my wealth between the poor and the Church. I have long been seeking a fit opportunity to avoid the vanity of making the distribution myself, as well as of attaching my heart to perishable goods instead of keeping it fixed on the true riches.” The emperor, somewhat ashamed of himself, and in admiration for the noble minded woman, caused her property to be given back.
She was a princess in liberality. The sick, the prisoners, beggars, and exiles were as her children. She purchased hundreds of slaves, and set them free. She gave not only her means but herself to the work of relief.
She was a devoted friend of John Chrysostom, the greatest commentator and preacher of the Greek Church. Chrysostom was banished for having roused the anger of the empress Eudoxia by his unsparing sermons. She was young and beautiful, despised by her husband, and indulged in her passions. Chrysostom denounced her as a new Herodias thirsting for the blood of John.
Many of Chrysostom’s followers also suffered, among them Olympias. She lost all her property, was grossly insulted by the soldiers, dragged before the courts, and died in sadness and poverty.
Chrysostom addressed to her many letters. One of those contains an extended account of his sufferings and faith.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.