Widow and Deaconess – (d. 408)
+ Olympias was born to a wealthy family in Constantinople, but was orphaned as a child. She later married Nebridius, the prefect of Constantinople.
+ After her husband’s death, Olympias refused other offers of marriage and dedicated herself to service as a deaconess. She also organized a group of prayerful women in her home and was honored for her care of the poor.
+ Olympias built a hospital and orphanage and sheltered monks fleeing persecution in Egypt, giving away so much of her wealth that her friend Saint John Chrysostom told her she was doing too much!
+ Her friendship with John Chrysostom became a source of suffering for her. After his exile from Constantinople, her house was seized and sold and she spent the rest of her life in exile. She died in Nicomedia (modern Izmit, Turkey) on July 25, 408, after a long illness.
December 17, marks the beginning of the Church’s final “countdown” to Christmas—the days of the “O” Antiphons. These special liturgical texts (prayed as part of the Church’s evening prayer) use titles for Christ taken from Old Testament prophecies and images, including “O Wisdom,” which is the title for Christ used today.
Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; / the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. / Acclaim her for the works of her hands, / and let her deeds praise her at the city gates.—Proverbs 31:30-31
God, the exaltation of the lowly, who willed that blessed Olympias should excel in the beauty of her charity and patience, grant, through her merits and intercession, that, carrying our cross each day, we may always persevere in love for you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For a Holy Woman)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.