February 18, 2016

Saint Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 449)

St. Flavian the Confessor (Feast Day - Gr. Feb. 16, Slav. Feb. 18)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich


Flavian became Patriarch of Constantinople following St. Proclus. He was a contemporary of St. Leo the Pope (Feb. 18). He fought resolutely against Eutyches and Dioscorus, but did not live to see the Triumph of Orthodoxy at the Fourth Ecumenical Synod [Chalcedon 451 A.D.), for prior to that at a heretical Robber Synod [Ephesus, 431 A.D.] he was mercilessly beaten, trampled upon and died there. Flavian was a faithful soldier of Christ, and a courageous defender and confessor of the Orthodox Faith. He died in the year 449 A.D.


With great difficulty and with even greater effort and sacrifice, the tares of heresy were sifted from the wheat of the truth of Orthodoxy. The heretics have always made use of lower means and mediocre persons in undermining Orthodoxy. Archmandrite Eutyches of Constantinople and Dioscorus, Patriarch of Alexandria, who spread the heretical teaching that there were not two natures in Christ, Divine and Human, rather one nature, had as their ally in the imperial court the mediocre eunuch Chrysaphius. Empress Eudoxia was secretly aligned with them. Patriarch Flavian, as a lion, fearlessly defended Orthodoxy in which he was assisted by Pulcheria (Feb. 17), the sister of the emperor. The eunuch Chrysaphius presented to Emperor Theodosius the most disgusting slanders against Flavian in order that the emperor would remove him from the throne and bring in the heretic Eutyches as patriarch. When this and all else did not succeed, the heretics plotted to kill Flavian. At the Robber Synod in Ephesus [431 A.D.] they beat him so badly and trampled upon him that St. Flavian, on the third day, gave up his soul to God. What happened in the end? At the Fourth Ecumenical Synod (Chalcedon 451 A.D.], Eutyches and Dioscorus were anathematized. The eunuch was ousted from the court and shamefully ended his life. The Empress Eudoxia was banished from Constantinople to Palestine. Flavian and Plucheria were proclaimed as saints and the Orthodox Faith victoriously confirmed.


"When pride comes, then comes shame."(*)
That is the word of God, the lesson of life.
Heretics, who are they? The children of pride.
What did they want? Shame, to bring,
That is why they had to endure shame.

Eutyches hoped in the help of the eunuch,
Flavian, in the help of the Spirit of God,
Pride always precedes the fall:
Eutyches perished and Flavian conquered.

Dioscorus, his hope was his fist
That is why all generations despise him.
Flavian beaten and trodden underfoot
Now on earth is glorified and blessed in Heaven.
The truth stands and he was not afraid of anything.

Leo the Roman extended him the assistance of a lion
In defense of the radiant face of Christ.
These two hierarchs and Eulogios the third one
Guided the Church to victory and fortune.

Without such spirits what would the Church be?
A wounded bird with broken wings.

(*) Proverbs 16:18

(In some synaxaria and in the Slavonic Menologies, St. Flavian is commemorated on the 18th of February after St. Leo; in others on the 17th of February with St. Pulcheria. The Greek Synaxarion celebrates him on the 16th of February. A close connection is thus maintained in the commemorations of the champions of Orthodoxy against the Monophysites.)