February 21 — Eustathius of Antioch; Pepin of Landen

Eustathius of Antioch (ca. 270–336 or 337 or 360 or 370), a well-beloved bishop to the Antiochians of Antioch, shone at the First Ecumenical Council (also called the Council of Nicea, especially by people from Nicea), where he deftly (albeit metaphorically) cut the Arians to ribbons with his razor-sharp arguments. After the council, he refused to appoint any Arian priests in his diocese, which so enraged the bishops in surrounding areas that they called another council, just for him. At this council, suborned witnesses (I looked that up—it means “persuaded to do wrong”) testified that he was cruel, Sabellian (i.e. modalist), and adulterous (or “incontinent” as the Catholic Encyclopedia delicately puts it). Needless to say he wasn’t any of those things, at least according to his hagiographers. I’m going with them.

He was deposed to Thrace (it could have been worse, but not much), and many of his loyal priests went with him. His followers were ready to rise up and do something rash, but he calmed them. Still, when he was replaced with Arian after Arian, many of the Trinitarian believers in the diocese refused to recognize the new bishops, and something of a local schism (the “Meletian Schism” to be precise) developed. This lasted into the fifth century, at which point, presumably, either the supply of bishopifiable Arians dried up, or the schismatics ran out of give-a-darn. In exile Eustathius wrote treatises against various heretics, but only the one about Origen remains. He eventually died but nobody can agree when. His relics were ferried back to Antioch in 482, where there was much rejoicing.

Blessed Pepin of Landen (ca. 580–640) (or Pipin, or Peppin, or Pippin) was the progenitor of the Pippinid dynasty. It must be noted that the status of Pepin’s saintworthiness is a matter of some confusion (on which more (but not a whole lot) anon). Of course by now you know confusion doesn’t bother me a bit, so on we go.

When the magnates of Austrasia (Warnachar, Rado, Arnulf, and their buds) abandoned Brunhilda, regent of 12-year-old King Sigebert II, and turned to Chlothar (sweet guy—he murdered both Brunhilda and Sigebert when he caught them), Pepin was right there among them. (We’re going to assume he didn’t know about all the murdering stuff.) Sadly he didn’t get rewarded for his loyalty until Warnarchar’s son Dagobert was made king of Austrasia (“Eastern land,” so named because it was the northernmost chunk of the Frankish kingdom), whereupon Pepin was made Mayor of the Palace (confused yet? we’re not done).

Pepin was loved by all, right up until he called Dagobert on his adulterous goings-on, at which point he was involuntarily retired to Aquitaine. When Dagobert died and Sigebert III ascended the throne, Pepin was brought out of retirement and made Mayor again. He strove for the rightful bishops of the area, oversaw the inheritance of Sigebert and his brother Clovis II, and in general was a positive force for truth, justice, and the Austrasian Way. His wife, Itta, was just as famous as he was (we are told), although unless you run in very different circles than I do, that didn’t last indefinitely. Their daughter Begga married Ansegisel the Arnulfing (i.e. son of Arnulf) (are these names great or what?), and their son Pepin of Heristal is reckoned the founder of the Carolingian dynasty. After Ansegisel died, Begga went to Rome for some reason, and when she came back founded seven churches and was made a saint. Pepin wasn’t made a saint official-like (by Rome), but was allowed into the local martyrology because he was universally loved and all that (except maybe by Sigebert II and Dagobert I, but they were dead). This is all recorded in the Chronicle of Fredegar, which I only mention for the Tolkien fans.

There are more confusing hagiographies than this one, but not many.