September 6, 2015 -
"AN EMPRESS WHO BATTLED FOR OUR FAITH”
St. Pulcheria occupies an honored place on the list of great women of this world. It was her faith in Christ and His influence on her that forged this woman of extraordinary character. She was the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Arcadius. Upon his death, the imperial throne fell to his son Theodosius II. But he was still a child and it came upon his older sister, Pulcheria, to deal with the affairs of government.
Gifted with remarkable administrative intelligence, Pulcheria grew to become a respected fifth century leader. She dealt with issues of the day firmly yet compassionately. She labored to help the poor, alleviate sickness and console the bereaved. Constantinople was filled with churches, hospitals, homes for strangers and the aged, and other religious houses, endowed from the funds of St. Pulcheria. The most famous church she built was at Blachernae, which was dedicated to the Most Pure Theotokos.
However, her special task lay in educating her young brother to assume the great responsibilities of the throne. After her brother married, she retreated to the solitude of a nunnery. But when Theodosius II died in an accident, Pulcheria resumed the reins of government. She was now a woman of 51. Internal dissension and external aggression caused trouble in the Empire. She was unable, alone, to make headway against all the problems. She was wise enough to call a man to her side and she wed Marcian but both took vows of celibacy.
Marcian assumed much of the chores of running the government. One of his first concerns was the establishment of peace in the Church. Just as Constantine the Great had done before, Marcian and Pulcheria turned to councils to help deal with the heresies that threatened our faith. They became involved with the Council of Chalcedon in the year 451. This was the fourth Ecumenical Council and was convened to deal with Eutychianism.
Pulcheria died peacefully in the year 453. She was a remarkable woman, whose abiding faith in Christ and commitment to His teachings had a profound influence in her life and, consequently, on the lives of those multitudes who lived in her time. The period of long tranquility mainly can be attributed to the wisdom and intelligence of St. Pulcheria. While strong in Christ, she rode out every storm and came to be recorded in the Church’s calendar of saints. This was no small accomplishment – especially at that time.