Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. II: The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen.: Chapter IEarly Church Fathers Index Previous Next
p. 419 Book IX.
Chapter I.—Death of Arcadius, and Government of Theodosius the Younger. His Sisters. Piety, Virtue, and Virginity, of the Princess Pulcheria; her Divinely Loved Works; she educated the Emperor Befittingly.
Such are the details that have been transmitted concerning John. Not long after his death, and three years after the elevation of Atticus to the bishopric of Constantinople, and during the consulate of Bassus and Philip, Arcadius died. He left Theodosius, his son, 1622 who was just weaned, as his successor to the empire. He also left three daughters of tender age, named Pulcheria, Arcadia, and Marina.
It appears to me that it was the design of God to show by the events of this period, that piety alone suffices for the salvation of princes; and that without piety, armies, a powerful empire, and every other resource, are of no avail. The Divine Power which is the guardian of the universe, foresaw that the emperor would be distinguished by his piety, and therefore determined that Pulcheria, his sister, should be the protector of him and of his government. This princess was not yet fifteen years of age, but had received a mind most wise and divine above her years. She first devoted her virginity to God, and instructed her sisters in the same course of life. To avoid all cause of jealousy and intrigue, she permitted no man to enter her palace. In confirmation of her resolution, she took God, the priests, and all the subjects of the Roman empire as witnesses to her self-dedication. In token of her virginity and the headship of her brother, she consecrated in the church of Constantinople, a holy table, a remarkable fabric and very beautiful to see; it was made of gold and precious stones; and she inscribed these things on the front of the table, so that it might be patent to all. After quietly resuming the care of the state, she governed the Roman empire excellently and with great orderliness; she concerted her measures so well that the affairs to be carried out were quickly decreed and completed. She was able to write and to converse with perfect accuracy in the Greek and Latin languages. She caused all affairs to be transacted in the name of her brother, and devoted great attention to bringing him up as a prince in the best possible way and with such information as was suitable to his years. She had him taught by the most skilled men, in horsemanship, and the practice of arms, and in letters. But he was systematically taught by his sister to be orderly and princely in his manners; she showed him how to gather up his robes, and how to take a seat, and how to walk; she trained him to restrain laughter, to assume a mild or a formidable aspect as the occasion might require, and to inquire with urbanity into the cases of those who came before him with petitions. But she strove chiefly, to lead him into piety, and to pray continuously; she taught him to frequent the church regularly, and to honor the houses of prayer with gifts and treasures; and she inspired him with reverence for priests and other good men, and for those who, in accordance with the law of Christianity, had devoted themselves to philosophy. She provided zealously and wisely that religion might not be endangered by the innovation of spurious dogmas. That new heresies have not prevailed in our times, we shall find to be due especially to her, as we shall subsequently see. With how much fear she worshiped God, it would take long for any one to say; and how many houses of prayer she built magnificently, and how many hostelries and monastic communities she established, the arrangement for the expenses for their perpetual support, and the provision for the inmates. If any one pleases to examine the truth from the business itself, and not to be convinced by my words, he will learn that they are not falsely described by me for my own favor, if he will investigate the testimonial documents written up by the stewards of her house, and if he will inquire from the true records whether the facts agree with my history. If these proofs alone do not satisfy him so as to make him believe, let God himself persuade him who had her in favor altogether and everywhere on account of her conduct, so that He heard her prayer readily, and frequently directed beforehand the things which ought to be done. Such indications of Divine love are not conferred upon men unless they have merited them by their works. But I willingly pass over for the p. 420 present the many separate manifestations of Divine favor that were granted to the sister of the emperor as proofs that she was loved of God, lest anybody should blame me for having set out to do other things, and yet had turned to the use of encomiums. One incident relating to her seems, however, so fitting in itself and to my ecclesiastical history, and so evident a demonstration of her love for God, that I will relate it here, although it happened some time afterwards. It is as follows:—
Soc. vi. 23; Philost. xii. 7; Theodoret, H. E. v. 36. Soz. is independent. Cf. Zos. v. 31; Olymp. Fragm. 1 and 2.
Next: Discovery of the Relics of Forty Holy Martyrs.
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