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April 6 Saints of the Day – Eutychius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and the Martyrs of Hadiab

On this date in 1947, the first Tony awards were presented. The presenters didn’t really like the recipients, but they put on a good show.

Eutychius, Patriarch of ConstantinopleOur eastern saint today is Eutychius, Patriarch of Constantinople (ca. 512 – 582). He was a scholar of science, but turned to the study of divine revelation, joining a monastery in Amasea (in eastern Anatolia). He was either sent as a representative of Amasea to the Fifth Ecumenical Council, or called the Fifth Ecumenical Council after he became Patriarch. However that was, when then-patriarch Mennas fell ill, he chose Eutychius to be his successor. Either that, or Emperor Justinian saw the Apostle Peter in a dream, and was told to make Eutychius patriarch. (All of this confusion exists in spite of the fact that, as one source avers, a complete life of the saint was written by his own chaplain and is still extant.) Pope Vigilius was in town at the time, and either did or didn’t approve of the council, and ended up not going either because he was ill, or had his nose out of joint for reasons unspoken. The council itself addressed the Three Chapters Controversy, which had to do with Monophysitism and Chalcedon and you don’t really want to know.

Along about then the emperor decided to proclaim Aphthartodocetae, which taught that Jesus’ earthly body was incorruptible and unhurtable. The patriarch helpfully explained this was kind of heretical, and Justinian thanked him by having him arrested and tried in abstentia (he refused to dignify the show trial) — for using ointment, eating enjoyable food, and (get this) praying too long. Found guilty, he was shipped back to Amasea, where he performed healing miracles for twelve years to keep himself busy. When his successor passed away, he returned to the capitol in triumph, lauded by all, and when he celebrated his first liturgy at Hagia Sophia, so many people wanted to take communion from his own hand that it took six hours.

At the end of his life, he almost threw it all away by adopting the doctrine that our resurrected bodies will be lighter than air. He got into a long battle over this with (future Pope) Gregory the Great, and the emperor himself (Tiberius) stepped in (unsuccessfully) to reconcile the two. Finally on his deathbed, he recanted and said, pointing to his arm, “Yeah, it’ll be this stuff right here.”

Martyrs of HadiabOur western saints today are the 120 Martyrs of Hadiab (or Martyrs of Persia) (d. 345), of whom exactly nine were virgins (I just report these things). These were graciously housed in a prison by King Shapur II (or XXVI) of Persia for six months, although through some oversight the king neglected to feed them. Fortunately a mysterious and fabulously wealthy (and yet virtuous) lady, Yasandocht (or something like that), supported them out of her generosity and bank account. Between repeated torture sessions they were implored by their captors to worship the sun, but they did not make a pun about worshipping the Son because the son/sun pun really only works in English. When word came to Jazdundocta that they were to be executed the next day, she “flew” to the prison (this must be hyperbole) to comfort them. She gave each a long, white robe, made them a fancy dinner all by herself (the take-out joints were closed), read the holy scriptures to them, and exhorted them to courage and steadfastness and that sort of thing. Then she went home.

The next day she turned up again, and as they were led away to be executed, she kissed their hands and asked them to pray for her. After being offered one last time a reprieve if they would only worship the sun, they demurred and were decapped. After everybody (living) had gone home, Yasandocht showed up with 240 undertakers, who wrapped the bodies in fine linen and reverently buried them well outside of town in graves of five each. Why wasn’t Yazdandocta excuted along with them, you ask? I don’t know either.

Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.

April 6 (Wikipedia)
Patriarch Eutychius of Constantinople (Wikipedia) – Main source
Eutychius of Constantinople (Orthodox Wiki)
St Eutychius the Patriarch of Constantinople (OCA)
Eutychius I (Catholic Encyclopedia)
Three-Chapter Controversy (Wikipedia)
Martyrs of Hadiab (SQPN) – Main source
The Martyrs in Persia (St. Patrick DC)


About Your Intrepid Blogger

I live in the Tacoma area. When not writing things some people think are funny, I teach technology to 7th and 8th graders at a local middle school.

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