July 11, 2019

How the Feast of Saint Euphemia on July 11th Came to Be Celebrated at the Ecumenical Patriarchate

In the Patriarchal Church of Saint George at the Phanar, by the south wall of the parecclesion of the Pammakaristos, placed on marble bases, are the caskets (larnax) with the holy relics of three female saints: Euphemia the Great Martyr, Solomone the mother of the Maccabees, and Theophano the first consort of the Emperor Leo VI the Wise. The casket of Saint Euphemia has a richly ornamented silver revetment. This relic has been in the Patriarchal Church since 1601.

A document preserved in the archives of the Patriarchate (Cod. A, 46) records that in the patriarchy of Gabriel III (1702-1707), notably on the 11th July 1707 (1704 according to others), the Russian Ambassador to the Sublime Porte, the priest Peter Andreovich, donated a quantity of cypress wood for the fashioning of three caskets in which to deposit the sacred relics of the three holy women. These caskets were red and gold on the outside (the caskets today date to the 19th century). We are told that he did this as a blessing for the salvation of his own soul and for the eternal memory of his parents.

Because this took place on July 11th, on which day we commemorate the Miracle of Saint Euphemia at the Fourth Ecumenical Synod, Patriarch Gabriel II decreed "her feast day to be celebrated annually with a procession in the patriarchal church with her holy relics placed in the middle," as stated in the apodeixis sent to the Christians of Constantinople (Cod. A, 25-26).