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9.09.2012

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The Glorious, Equal to the Apostles and Queen, Saint Poulcheria, the Virgin 



Saint Poulcheria?s feast day is celebrated each year on September 10. This very holy and equal to the apostles Queen, was the granddaughter of Emperor Theodosius I the Great, daughter of Emperor Arcadios, and sister of Emperor Theodosius II.
Saint Poulcheria, who was extremely well learned and pious, is also known as Saint Poulcheria the Virgin as she promised God to remain a virgin throughout her life. She was extensively involved in the education of her younger brother Theodosius and maintained enormous influence over him for much of his reign and of the course of the empire. She also assumed the role of her brother?s tutor and she was solely responsible for his education until he grew up. Queen Poulcheria defended Orthodoxy and helped tremendously the church. Thus, she was extremely respected and revered by patriarchs, clergy and the rest of the people of the empire.
Queen Poulcheria was honored and respected as very few of the previous emperors and kings of the empire due to her many virtues, piety, prudence and numerous acts of charity. Many even referred to her as the new Saint Helen which was indicative of the people?s great respect and admiration to her person. 


When her younger brother Theodosius passed away in 450 the handling of the empire and its affairs came into the hands of Saint Poulcheria. Following the Senate?s counsel, Poulcheria married a very pious and virtuous man, Senator Markianos who agreed to respect her virginity as a condition for him to ascend to the throne.

In 451, Emperor Markianos and Queen Poulcheria called the 4th Ecumenical Council which convened to condemn Eutichios, Dioskosos and the doctrine of Monophysitism (from the Greek monos meaning 'one, alone' and physis meaning 'nature'), which professed that Christ has only a divine nature.
Queen Poulcheria was esteemed and honored as a holy person even during her lifetime by many respected members of the church such as bishops and patriarchs, especially by Pope Leon of Rome. The theological epistles of Saint Cyril of Alexandria to her clearly demonstrated the impiety of the Nestorius?s heresy.
It was during Queen Poulcheria?s reign that the Greek language came to replace Latin as the official language of the empire. It was also during her time and the reign of St. Proclos, the Patriarch of Constantinople, that Queen Poulcheria negotiated the return of the relics of Saint John Chrysostom and the Forty Martyrs back to Constantinople.
Countless are the institutions, schools, hospitals, churches, and monasteries that this saintly woman built throughout the empire for the glory of God and for the benefit of her soul, granting them many privileges, funds, and other benefits. She was also the first benefactor and founder of the Holy Monastery of Esphigmenou an act for which she is properly honored and remembered throughout the ages. Saint Poulcheria also donated a cross, the so-called Cross of Poulcheria that is kept at the monastery and bears her name. The cross of Poulcheria is considered one of the most valuable and priceless treasures of the Monastery of Esphigmenou.

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