St Polkaria

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On 10 September we commemorate Saint Polkaria. She was born on 19 January 399. She was the daughter of the emperor of the eastern part of the Roman Empire. After the death of her father, her younger brother became emperor at seven years old.

Polkaria had great influence over the direction of her brother and the government in its relations with Christianity. She was a devout Christian and at an early age she took a vow of virginity and had a great devotion to the Virgin Mary.

She used her wealth for the church and influenced her brother to do the same. She built many hospitals and houses for pilgrims, and donated some of her wealth to charity.

On 4 June 414, the Senate proclaimed her empress and made her regent for her brother. Even when her brother became capable of ruling by himself in 416, she continued to have a strong influence over her brother and the empire.

By 441, Polkaria’s influence on her brother began to weaken as the eunuch Chrysaphius convinced Her brother to dismiss his sister.  The emperor also began to support the Monophysite error which believed Christ only had a divine and not human nature. That was also being promoted by the priests Eutyches and Dioscorus.

Pope Leo I of Rome approached Polkaria among others to reverse the council’s decision in the Robber Council of 449 and to excommunicate Eutyches for refusing to admit two natures in Christ after the incarnation.

On 28 July 450, Her brother the emperor died and Polkaria returned to the court as the wife of the new emperor, Marcian. She had agreed to the marriage with the understanding that he would honour the vow of chastity. In 451, the Council of Chalcedon, presided over by Marcian condemned the Robber Council of 449 that had supported the Monophysite heresy.

Polkaria died in July 453. She was great influential woman in the Christian church. She is also commemorated for having the relics of Saint John Chrysostom returned from where he had died in exile to the church of the apostles in Constantinople to be buried.

Today we ask for this great saints intercession to inspire all women and men of the Christian faith to be prudent in how they seek to defend the truth. Polkaria spoke when she could and remained quiet when her brother shunned her. In the end the truth of Christ prevailed. May we all have the same prudence.


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