Following with the previous post, this article examines some of the earliest accounts of women in the Church, although I find that they are either surrounded by legends and myths or ‘merely’ mothers to notable men.
Anthusa lived from c. 330 to 374 A.D. in Antioch. Widowed at the age of 20, she is remembered for her influence in the life of her son, John Chrysostom, one of the greatest preachers and leaders of the 4th-century church. Her contemporaries tell us Anthusa was cultured, attractive, and from a wealthy family. Yet she chose to not remarry after her husband’s death, deciding instead to devote herself to rearing her two children, John and his sister.
John later wrote that his mother not only taught her children to know and love the teachings of the Bible, but also that her very life was a model of biblical teaching. A student of law, rhetoric and the Scriptures, John was ordained by Bishop Meletius and later became bishop of Constantinople. A zealous missionary himself, he inspired numerous others to serve as missionaries. And he always emphasized that a crucial factor to effective evangelism is for Christians to be living examples of Christ-centeredness. Surely he learned something of this from his mother Anthusa.
Chrysostom is known as the writer of numerous biblical commentaries, and as one of the most articulate and influential spokesmen for Christianity in his era. So much so, in fact, that the Empress Eudoxia tried in Chrysostom’s later years to silence the preacher by banishing him. Chrysostom deeply revered his mother, admiring her prayers and her faith, and cared for her until her death. We don’t know much else about Anthusa, but we know she had great positive influence, at the least by way of her influential son.
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