Right-Believing Pulcheria, Byzantine Empress

The Holy Right-Believing Empress Pulcheria, daughter of the Byzantine emperor Arcadius (395-408), was coregent and adviser of her brother Theodosius the Younger (408-450). She received a broad and well-rounded education, and distinguished herself by her wisdom and piety, firmly adhering to Orthodox teaching. Through her efforts the church of the Most Holy Theotokos was built at Blachernae, and also other churches and monasteries.

Through the intrigues of enemies and of Eudokia, the wife of the emperor Theodosius the Younger, St Pulcheria was removed from power. She withdrew into seclusion, and lived a pious life. Without her benificent influence, conditions in the capital deteriorated. She returned after a while, following the urgent request of her brother. Then the unrest provoked by emerging heresies was quelled.

After the death of Theodosius the Younger, Marcian (450-457) was chosen emperor. St Pulcheria again wanted to withdraw into her seclusion, but both the emperor and officials entreated her not to refuse the throne, but to marry the emperor Marcian. For the common good she consented to become Marcian’s wife if she were allowed to preserve her virginity within the marriage. They were married, but lived in purity as brother and sister.

Through the efforts of St Pulcheria, the Third Ecumenical Council was held at Ephesus in 431 to address the heresy of Nestorius; and also the Fourth Ecumenical Council which was convened at Chalcedon in the year 451, to deal with the heresies of Dioscorus and Eutychius.

St Pulcheria built the church of the Mother of God at Blachernae at Constantinople, and also found the relics of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (March 9).

Throughout her life St Pulcheria defended the Orthodox Faith against various heresies. After giving away her wealth to the poor and to the Church, she died peacefully at the age of fifty-four in the year 453.