A friend sent me a picture of what appears to be a homemade poster which says:
There is no painter, no sculptor, no artist who can be compared to the teacher who, with the grace of God, fashions the image of Christ in the minds and hearts of students. — St. John Chrysostom
When I started to investigate, something happened that has never happened to me before: there were NO matches for my Google search. None. I started searching a little more creatively, and the best I can find is this, from St. John Chrysostom’s Homily 59 on Matthew, which says:
For what is equal to training the soul, and forming the mind of one that is young? For he that has this art, ought to be more exactly observant than any painter and any sculptor.
My best guess is that someone took what the saint actually said and expanded upon it, and that someone else took the expansion for an actual quotation. What boggles the mind (if my guess is correct) is that they did this without Google’s ever noticing.
Maybe this post can stop a new fauxtation in its tracks. (But I doubt it.)
There are various forms of a quotation, all attributed to St. John Chrysostom: “The road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops,” or: “The road to Hell is paved with the bones of priests and monks, and the skulls of bishops are the lamp posts that light the path.”
It’s an ancient fauxtation–John Wesley uses it–and known for well over 150 years to be a fake. I give you T.J. Buckton in Notes & Queries ser. 1. V.117 (1852) p. 92:
Hell paved with the Skulls of Priests (Vol. iv., p. 484.). [This refers to the volume in which the question was asked whether the quotation was accurate]— The French priest referred to in this Query had most probably quoted, at second or third hand, and with rhetorical embellishment — certainly not from the original direct — an expression of St. Chrysostom, in his third homily on the Acts of the Apostles :
“οὐκ οῖμαι εῖναι πόλλους ἐν τοῖς ἰερευσι τοὺς σωζομένους, ἀλλὰ πολλῳ πλείους τοὺς ἀπολλυμένους”
I know not if there be many in the priesthood, who are saved, but I know that many more perish.”
Gibbon has also quoted this passage at second hand (v. 399. note z.), for he says :
“Chrysostom declares his free opinion (tom. ix. hom. iii. in Act. Apostol. p. 29.) that the number of bishops who might be saved, bore a very small proportion to those who would be damned.”
It may be safely asserted that the above expression of Chrysostom is the strongest against the priesthood to be found in any of the Christian Fathers of authority in the Church.
T. J. Buckton.
There is really little excuse for a knowledgeable Catholic (or knowledgeable anything else) to continue to attribute the saying to St. John Chrysostom.
Further reading (and the places that told me where to look on Google Books):