Commemorated on September 10
Empress Pulcheria, daughter of the Greek-Byzantine emperor Arcadius
(395-408), was co-regent and adviser of her brother Theodosius the Younger
(408-450). Having received a broad and well-rounded education, she
distinguished herself by her wisdom and piety, firmly adhering to the Orthodox
teaching of faith. Through her efforts the church of the MostHoly Mother of God
at Blakhernae was built, and likewise other churches and monasteries. With her
assist, the Third OEcumenical Council was convened in the year 431 at Ephesus,
to deal with the heresy of Nestorius.
Through the intrigues
of enemies and also Eudocia, the wife of the emperor Theodosius the Younger,
Saint Pulcheria was stripped of rule. She withdrew into seclusion, where she
lived a pious life. But without her things became disorderly, and after a
certain while, upon the urgent request of her brother the emperor she returned,
and the unrest provoked by emerging heresies was quelled. After the death of
Theodosius the Younger, Marcian (450-457) was chosen emperor. Saint Pulcheria
again wanted to withdraw into her seclusion, but both the emperor and officials
besought her not to forsake the rule, and instead become the spouse of the
emperor Marcian. For the common good she consented to become the wife of
Marcian on the condition, that she be permitted to preserve her virginity
within the marriage. In such manner the imperial spouses lived in purity, like
brother and sister.
Through the efforts
of Saint Pulcheria, the Fourth OEcumenical Council was convened in the year 451
at Chalcedon, to deal with the heresies of Dioskoros and Eutykhios.
Throughout the course
of all her life Saint Pulcheria defended the Orthodox teaching of faith against
the various heresies that emerged. Having distributed off her substance to the
poor and to the Church, she died peacefully at age 54 in the year 453.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.