Premature death of children was a tragic, yet all too common phenomenon in antiquity. Modern scholars noticed a shift of focus in literature that addresses the loss of children: whereas authors in the pre-Christian era focused on the sorrow of bereaved parents, Christian writers paid more attention to the moral and eschatological status of deceased children. This article examines John Chrysostom's understanding of the premature death of children and the counsel he offers to bereaved parents. In comparison with Augustine and Gregory of Nyssa, who exclusively commented on deceased children, Chrysostom retains a focus on helping bereaved parents cope with their sorrow. His homilies provide us with a profound glimpse of the feelings and thoughts of parents dealing with their loss and the kind of counseling they were likely to receive from the church. This article will also suggest that Chrysostom's optimistic assessment of the destiny of deceased children—their guaranteed entry into heaven due to moral innocence—contributes significantly to his counseling of bereaved parents.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 443-463
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.