April 6 – Eutychius, Patriarch of Constantinople; Martyrs of Hadiab

Eutychius, Patriarch of Constantinople (ca. 512–582) was a scholar of science who 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[1]. 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 proclaimed 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 capital in triumph, lauded by all, and when he celebrated his first liturgy at Hagia Sophia, so many people wanted to take communion from his 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 and Saint) Gregory the Great (Sep 3), and the emperor himself (Tiberius) tried (unsuccessfully) to reconcile the two. Finally on his deathbed, Euty recanted and pointing to his arm said, and I paraphrase, “Yeah, it’ll be this stuff right here.”

The 120 Martyrs of Hadiab (d. 345) (aka Martyrs of Persia) included exactly nine 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 or other the king neglected to feed them. Fortunately a mysterious and fabulously wealthy (and yet virtuous) lady, Yasandocht (or something very 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 (or something) 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 (an approximation) 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[2] (or whatever she was called) executed along with them, you ask? If you find out, please let me know.


[1]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.
[2]These variants were all in one source or another.