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July 29, 2015

Holy Emperor Theodosius II the Younger

St. Theodosius the Pious, Emperor of the Romans (Feast Day - July 29)


Your reign was not seen to be a barrier,
For you O Theodosius towards salvation.

Emperor Theodosius II began his reign over the Roman Empire in the year 408 at the age of seven, a successor to his father Arcadius. He was called "the Younger" to distinguish him from his grandfather, Emperor Theodosius I the Great (375-395). He is mostly known for promulgating the Theodosian law code, and for the construction of the Theodosian Walls of Constantinople. His sister Pulcheria taught him Christian piety, nourishing him with great reverence and devotion to the Orthodox Faith. When Theodosius the Younger took the royal scepter, with the help of his sister Pulcheria, he strongly supported the truths of the Orthodox Faith and secured its Creed. Thus, by royal decree on the 19th of November in 430, the Third Ecumenical Synod met on the 22nd of June in 431 in Ephesus, which condemned the heretical doctrines of Nestorius. In 438 Theodosius II and Pulcheria received back to Constantinople with great celebration the relics of St. John Chrysostom. Theodosius died in 450 as the result of a riding accident. The Church, for his fervent piety and great service to the cause of Orthodoxy, has inducted him into the chorus of saints.

Emperor Theodosius II receives the relics of St. John Chrysostom

In the Evergetinos the following beneficial story is told related to this Emperor, whom St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite calls "the lover of monastics":

"An Egyptian monk was living in a suburb of Constantinople in the reign of Emperor Theodosius the Younger. Passing along that road, the emperor abandoned everybody and came alone knocking at the door of the monk. He opened the door and recognized who it was but received him as though he were an imperial officer. When he came in, they offered a prayer and sat down; then the emperor began to examine him about how it was with the fathers in Egypt. He said, 'They are all praying for your empire,' also saying, 'Do have something to eat.' He moistened some dry bread for him, adding a little oil and salt, and he ate. He gave him some water, and he drank it. 'Do you know who I am,' the emperor said to him, but the monk said, 'God knows who you are.' 'I am Theodosius the emperor,' he said to him, and the elder immediately prostrated himself before him. The emperor said to him, 'Blessed are you who do not have to worry about your lives. In truth, I was born in the palace but never had enjoyment the way I did from this bread and water today; I have eaten with great delight.' From then on the emperor began to revere him, but the elder got up and fled; he returned back to Egypt."