St Pulcheria

Virgin and Empress (entered heaven in 453)

Dear Polly,

You have always been a fun-loving damsel, full of verve and good spirits, and I am glad to see that you are putting these qualities to good use (finally).  God gave us each a personality, and it’s up to us to make sure that its weak points get shored up and its strong points yield a profit.  In order to avoid falling into frivolity and superficiality (always a danger for those of you who are naturally the “life of the party”), you may find it helpful to keep spiritually close to today’s saint.

Pulcheria was intelligent, prudent, likeable, and (of course, being a saint) holy.  The daughter and granddaughter of Emperors, she grew up in the elaborate and magnificent court of Constantinople (now called Istanbul), capital of the eastern empire.  You can imagine her high level of education and culture (she later endowed the first university in that great city).  She was the oldest of five children – three sisters and one brother.  When she was only 15, her father died, and her younger brother was too young to take the throne.  Everyone knew her maturity and qualities, so she was named empress and put in charge of the household and most especially of the education of her young brother, Theodosius II.  He turned out virtuous and religious, but was an incapable ruler.  She did everything she could to help him (she even took a vow of virginity – and convinced her sisters to do the same – to avoid having suitors try to usurp his power), but when he married a princess from Athens, she was relieved of her duties and the empire fell under the influence of his wife’s supporters.  Only after he died were the people able to get her back again.  To stabilize the volatile situation she took a husband, an older, wise, and experienced general of humble origins – on the condition the he would allow her to keep her vow of virginity.  In their three years reigning together, Pulcheria did enough for the peace and prosperity of the eastern empire and the healing of divisions among Christians that the Council of Chalcedon acclaimed her as “Guardian of the faith, peacemaker, religious right-believer, a second St Helen.”  Her legacy lasted for centuries.

I propose her to you as a kind of personal patron (besides the acoustic similarity in names) because she combined your magnetic personality with a deep sense of mission and responsibility in life.  If she can help you do the same, we’ll have another saint on our hands for sure – and we certainly could use some more saints these days.

God bless,

Uncle Eddy

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