Byzantine empress, virgin; b. Constantinople, Jan. 19, 399; d. July 453. The daughter of the Eastern Roman Emperor arcadius, she was proclaimed Augusta on July 4, 414. She was regent for her brother the Byzantine Emperor theodosius ii and arranged his marriage in 421 with Athenais Eudocia, the daughter of a pagan philosopher. Pulcheria had made a vow of virginity. She was noted for her benefactions, composed secular verse and church hymns, and helped reorganize the university founded by Constantine I in Constantinople. A strong adversary of nestorianism, she received a letter of gratitude from St. cyril of alexandria. Because of the hostility of Empress Eudocia and the prime minister Chrysaphius, she left the court to lead a secluded life in
the palace of Hebdomon, but returned after the Robber Council of ephesus (449) and received frequent requests for assistance in the settlement of ecclesiastical affairs from Pope leo i.
On the sudden death of Theodosius II (July 28, 450), she assumed power and married the elderly senator Marcian, who had the eunuch Chrysaphius executed. She effected the reconciliation of the Patriarch anatolius of constantinople with Rome and, despite many objections, she and Marcian convoked the Council of chalcedon (451) in which she took an active interest, probably being present at the sixth session.
Feast: September 10.
Bibliography: Acta Sanctorum Sept. 3:503–540. g. ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State, tr. j. hussey from 2d German ed. (Oxford 1956); American ed. by p. charanis (New Brunswick, N.J. 1957) 51, 55. a. b. teetgen, The Life and Times of the Empress Pulcheria (London 1907). e. schwariz, "Die Kaiserin Pulcheria auf der Synode von Chalkedon," Festgabe für Adolf Jülicher (Tübingen 1927) 203–212. p. goubert in a. grillmeyer and h. bacht, Das Konzil von Chalkedon: Geschichte und Gegenwart (Wurzburg 1951–54) 1:303–321.
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