As narrated yesterday, Pulcheria was the sister of Theodosius II and the one who had preceded him as Empress on the throne of Costantinople while he was coming of age. She was a central political figure throughout all her life and was crucial in trying to resolve the theological conflict between the archbishop of Constantinople […]
As narrated yesterday, Pulcheria was the sister of Theodosius II and the one who had preceded him as Empress on the throne of Costantinople while he was coming of age.
She was a central political figure throughout all her life and was crucial in trying to resolve the theological conflict between the archbishop of Constantinople and the Patriarch of Alexandria. It was one of the many quarrels that would result in schisms and sects throughout centuries of history: Nestor, the archbishop of Constantinople, stressed Christ’s human nature, while Cyril, the Patriarch of Alexandria, was a Monophysit and claimed he only had a divine nature. There was no tv in ancient times.
In order to settle the dispute without a fracture, Pulcheria organized the First Council of Ephesus, which was held in 431 and resulted in Nestorius’ deposition as archbishop after he had tried to slander her good name.
Advised by Pulcheria, Emperor Theodosius II ruled in favour of Cyril and banished Nestorius to a monastery in Antioch. With even less tv.
The debate was far from being settled, however, and another council was due in 449, this time in Ephesus. At this council, however, the plot thickened with the direct intervention of Pope Leo I, also known as Leo the Great.
The Pope sent a long letter to Archbishop Flavian of Constantinople, in which he tried to stir the council in favour of Christ’s double nature. The attempt was so successful that the Archbishop of Constantinople was beaten to death during the council and is still considered a martyr both by the Orthodox and the Catholic Church.
In 451, Pulcheria and her husband Marcian summoned a new council, in Chalcedon, where both Nestorius and Eutyches’ doctrines were condemned. The council developed the creed of Nicaea instead, reaching what is still considered canon: that Christ was fully divine and fully human, at all times, from his conception to his ascension.
Pulcheria was honoured by the Council and devoted the last years of her life to building churches dedicated to this new dogma in the doctrine, particularly three churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
The cause of her death is unknown.
Regardless of her marriage, she is said never to have renounced her vow of virginity, which is oddly never mentioned as a possible reason for her mysterious death a year after her marriage.
She is considered a saint by both the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church: she’s venerated on September, 10th.
De Scudery has her writing to te Patriarch of Constantinopole.