Eustratius, presbyter of Constantinople, composes a Life of *Eutychios (patriarch of Constantinople, ob. 582,S01383), probably to be read out at the first anniversary of his death; it presents Eutychios as an exemplary and unswervingly orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, describing his patriarchate, his persecution, and the miracles performed through him. Written in Greek in 583, or soon after.
Literary - Hagiographical - Lives of saint
Eustratius of Constantinople
Eustratios of Constantinople, Life of Eutychios (CPG 7520, BHG 657)
Eustratios expresses his unworthiness for the composition of the Life; he puts his trust in God, so that his shortcomings are no obstacle for his task.
62-264 Birth, early life and education
Eutychios is born in Phrygia as the son of orthodox parents; already his grandfather has been a priest and is very important for his upbringing and acquainting him with Christian virtues. Eutychios’ father is Alexander, a member of the staff of Belisarius.
265-423 Move to Constantinople and priesthood
Twelve years old, he goes to Constantinople for studying and afterwards wants to become a monk. However, the metropolitan bishop of Amasea encourages him to strive for the bishopric of Zalichenoi; hence, he receives his first spiritual graces and is afterwards consecrated priest when he is thirty years old.
424-513 Monastic life at Amasea
Someone else having been made bishop of Zalichenoi, Eutychios enters a monastery in Amasea; he lives there for ten years and becomes its abbot.
514-911 Election to the patriarchate and the fifth ecumenical council
Eutychios is sent to Constantinople for the council as replacement of the bishop of Amasea; he has a vision that he will become patriarch. Having impressed many clerics and Justinian with his religious knowledge, he is made patriarch after the death of Menas. Soon afterwards, Eutychios presides over the council; he achieves that the whole church is in harmony and all the patriarchs act unanimously under his leadership, all the heresies are condemned.
912-1201 Deposition and exile
After twelve peaceful years, Justinian is deceived by evil men and prompted to support the heresy of Aphthartodocetism. Eutychios, resisting in vain the publication of an edict promoting this doctrine, is arrested by the ringleaders, deposed, and exiled to his old monastery in Amasea.
1202-1779 Miracles at Amasea (in 565-580)
1246-1300 The childless couple
All the children of a couple in Amasea have died soon after their birth; seeking for help, they go to Eutychios, who prays for them and anoints them both with holy oil. He then orders them to call the yet unborn child Peter and promises that it will live under this condition. This indeed happens, and soon afterwards, a second boy is born, too.
1301-1317 The priest’s deaf son
A priest has a son who is deaf and mute; Eutychios prays for him and anoints him, the boy stays with him for three days, after which he is able to speak and hear.
1318-1330 The priest’s son who neither spoke nor ate
Another priest has a son who is refusing to speak and to eat. Receiving the holy communion from Eutychios, he is cured.
1331-1376 The unweaned child
A child, who only takes food from his mother’s breast, is brought to Eutychios. He anoints it and gives him the communion; already on the next day, the child consumes a little food; soon afterwards, it eats normally.
1377-1404 The dying child of the artisan
A child of an artisan is ill; his father comes with him to the monastery. Eutychios is very busy and unable to receive them. The father wants to give up and return home, but Eustratios makes him wait and finally fetches Eutychios, who prays for the child and anoints it. It is almost instantly healed and plays again happily only hours later.
1405-1427 The country-woman’s son who was possessed by a demon
A country-woman comes to the city with her small boy to do some business. Suddenly, the boy cannot stand any longer, since a demon is afflicting his feet. She brings him to Eutychios, who prays and anoints the feet. After that, he is able to walk again.
1428-1464 The girl who refused communion
A little girl is brought to Eutychios; she is unable to receive the communion since she always starts to cry and tremble. Eutychios tests this; the bread is forced into her mouth, but she vomits it out again; she then also seizes the hand of a man standing there and puts it in a flame. The next day, he anoints her; the demon finally comes out and she is able to receive the communion.
1465-1491 The mosaicist
A mosaicist is removing an old mosaic depicting the story of Aphrodite, because the place should be turned into a chapel for Mary. When he is removing her face, the demon attacks his hand; the infection is so strong that the doctors recommend to amputate it. Desperate, he goes to Eutychios, who anoints the hand during three days, after which it is cured. Grateful, the mosaicist puts an icon of Eutychios at the place where he has been attacked.
1492-1527 The woodworker
A small child possessed by a demon is brought to Eutychios by a woodworker. He holds the child in his hands while Eutychios is blessing it. The next day, he comes back, complaining that he suffers heavy pain in his hand; the demon has gone from the child into his hand. Eutychios prays for him and then orders him to go home and continue praying. However, the woodworker disregards that and goes to the doctors, but they are unable to cure him. Finally, he goes back to Eutychios, who again prays for the man, and he is cured.
1528-1605 The fallen monk
A young man, possessed by a demon, is brought to Eutychios. He anoints him and lays the cross on his forehead, but the man begins to scream and strikes several monks down. Inquiring into the reasons of his affliction, they learn that he has been a monk in an monastery, but then left it. Eutychios orders him to go back there and prays for him; henceforth, he is free of the demon.
1606-1630 The leper
A country-man suffering from leprosy goes to Eutychios asking for help. He anoints his eyes and hands and orders him not to drink wine. The man departs and comes back a year later; the disease has not advanced any further and he is able to lead his usual life.
1631 – 1657 The blind man
A man has become blind because he has committed perjury in front of a justice court. He confesses his sins to Eutychios; begging God for forgiveness, Eutychios anoints his eyes with the holy oil during three days, after which he is cured.
1658 – 1706 The women whose milk had dried up
Several women complain that their milk has dried up and that their children are starving. Eutychios prays continually, anoints them, and they are cured and their breasts even overflowing with milk.
1707 – 1779 The relief of the famine
At the time when the Persians under Chosroes invade the empire, many people flee into Amasea. A famine starts; all come to the monastery asking for bread. Eutychios goes down into the empty cellar and, praying there, proclaims that God will provide them with an inexhaustible amount of flour, and there is a never-ceasing heavenly supply allowing to feed all the hungry.
1780-2293 Recall from exile and reinstallation as patriarch
After the death of the usurping patriarch (John Scholasticus), he is called back to Constantinople. This is also the wish of the emperors; Eutychios has foretold to Justin, Tiberius and Maurice that they will become emperor. On his way back, he performs numerous miracles; for example, near Euchaita, a woman with an ill child falls accidentally beneath the mules of Eutychios. Everyone fears that they are death, but they are unharmed and the child cured. Entering Nicomedia, he is greeted by a huge crowd and even the Jews give thanks to God for Eutychios’ arrival. His return to Constantinople is accompanied by great celebrations.
2294-2502 The second patriarchate
Eutychios performs numerous miracles: At the time of his return, there is a plague in Constantinople; however, it ceases after Eutychios has led a procession from the Hagia Sophia to the church of Mary in Blachernae. A further miracle is the cure of a young nobleman; he has sustained an injury in his eye and is in danger to lose it. However, Eutychios prays for him and anoints the eye with oil, and he is cured. Moreover, he cures a woman suffering from dropsy; Eutychios applies the oil on her body, and she is healthy again a few days later. He is also active publishing books against heresies; in every single doctrine, he is an example of orthodoxy.
2503-2770 Death and funeral
Having celebrated the great Easter liturgy, Eutychios is taken ill and dies seven days later. His reception in heaven is known through two miracles; first, at the very moment of his death, the whole crowd gathered in the church suddenly shouts “Kyrie eleison”; second, it is not necessary to move his body and close his eyes after his death, his position is already perfect. A huge crowd attends the lavish funeral procession; his body is buried in the church of the Holy Apostles.
Eustratios asks for forgiveness because of his inadequacy to properly praise Eutychios. He concludes by asking Eutychios in heaven to intercede on our behalf.
Summary: E. Rizos
Burial site of a saint - tomb/graveUse of Images
Commissioning/producing an imageNon Liturgical Activity
Composing and translating saint-related texts Miracles
Appropriation of older cult sites
Visiting/veneration of living saint
Miracle during lifetimeRelics
Fertility- and family-related miracles (infertility, marriages)
Apparition, vision, dream, revelation
Miraculous appointment to office
Healing diseases and disabilities
Material support (supply of food, water, drink, money)
Miraculous protection - of communities, towns, armies
Miracle at martyrdom and death
Miraculous behaviour of relics/images
Bodily relic - entire bodyProtagonists in Cult and Narratives
Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy
Ecclesiastics - bishops
Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits
Monarchs and their family
SourceThe Life of Eutychios (about 512-582) is, although highly selective, a prime source for the time of his patriarchate, 552-582. The central events were the fifth ecumenical council in Constantinople in 553, his deposition and exile due to his resistance to the aphthartodocetic doctrine in 565, and his recall from exile in 577 after the death of patriarch John Scholasticus. Written by Eustratios, one of his presbyters, in Constantinople and probably read out for the first time in 583 (Cameron 1988, 244f), at the anniversary of his death, it mainly aims at praising Eutychios’ perfectly orthodox beliefs and highlighting both the numerous miracles performed through him and the general esteem in which he was held. However, Eutychios’ position in the second period of his patriarchate 577-582 was by no means as unproblematic as it is presented in the Life, where it is in large parts glossed over with accounts of his miracles. As attested by the Church History of John of Ephesus (2,36/40/51f) and Gregory the Great’s Moralia (14,56,72-74), he was in that time at the centre of theological conflicts and sometimes in open disagreement with the emperor, especially about the question of the resurrection of the bodies, which he seems to have denied. Eustratios omitted almost all the controversial episodes that might have put Eutychios in an unfavourable light and instead chose to focus on the alleged great success of early in his patriarchate: the fifth ecumenical council. Eustratios claims that the whole church and all the assembled bishops acted unanimously under the leadership of Eutychios. However, his narration on the council is distorted; the four patriarchs present in Constantinople were far from all agreeing with each other. Pope Vigilius, although in Constantinople, refused to attend the council, was arrested and put under pressure until he accepted its decisions (Acts of the Council, Sessions I-III; Price 2009, 50-56).
Eustratios throughout the Life depicted Eutychios as the predestined and uncontested leader of the church; all the instances which would have made it apparent that his position was not so secure were either left out or mentioned in a way that his respective opponents were presented as a small circle of evil or ignorant men, whereas the vast majority of the people were allegedly always supporting him. This is underlined by the description of how the whole population of Constantinople, including the emperors Justin and Tiberius, longed to receive him back after his exile; no mention at all is made about the unclear legitimacy of his second patriarchate although, according to John of Ephesus (2,32-34), he prevented an inquiry into the validity of his deposition in 565. This casts doubts on the triumphant nature of his return in 577 as it is pictured in the Life; Eutychios was not accepted by everyone, but remained a controversial figure. His ideas on the resurrection of the bodies opposed Tiberius’ views to such an extent that the emperor ordered his books to be burnt (Gregory, Moralia, 14,56,74). The Life remains silent about these issues, since this would contradict the image of the generally approved and popular patriarch, which Eustratios tries to convey.
It is unknown how successful he was in achieving this; Eutychios never became a popular saint with a widespread cult. Very little is known about his later veneration; the Life has only been transmitted in three manuscripts, all of them containing menologia from the 10/11th centuries, listing the Life of Eutychios as the text for the 6th of April, the day of his death.
DiscussionThe Life of Eutychios aims at depicting and promoting Eutychios as a saint, worthy of veneration. Eustratios gives an example of what he hopes to achieve with the composition of the Life when, in the epilogue, he addresses Eutychios in heaven in his prayers and asks him to intercede on our behalf. The Life gives several reasons why Eutychios deserves to be venerated as a saint: already during his mother's pregnancy, miraculous signs are given announcing Eutychios’ sainthood; as a child, he foretells his future as patriarch; this is later confirmed to him in visions; during his time as patriarch, and especially when in exile in Amasea, he achieves numerous miraculous deeds; these are mainly healings, but also include the expulsion of demons and the predictions he makes to Justin, Tiberius, and Maurice that they will become emperors. Next to these special spiritual achievements, he is also an uncompromising defender of the orthodox faith, standing up against heretics in speech and writing. He is prepared to resist imperial wishes, if he recognises them as containing doctrinal errors, and is willing to suffer persecution for his convictions, as is shown in the events leading to his deposition. Another indication for Eutychios’ sainthood is delivered at his death; he passed away with his body already in a perfect position, so that it was not necessary to move him.
Even though a main intention of Eustratios was to praise Eutychios and to foster his cult, the composition of the Life cannot be seen separated from the controversies, largely omitted in the Life, in which Eutychios was involved during his second patriarchate and which Eustratios wanted to replace in the memory of his audience with this purely eulogistic account. However, Eustratios was not particularly successful and Eutychios probably had been too divisive in his last years that he could have achieved a widespread cultic recognition as a saint; as indicated by the small number of manuscripts, the Life never became a popular hagiographical text and Eutychios remained a relatively unknown saint.
Laga, C., Eustratii Presbyteri Vita Eutychii Patriarchae Constantinopolitani (Turnhout: Brepols 1992), CCSG 25.
Further reading and bibliography:
Cameron, A., ‘Eustratius’ Life of the Patriarch Eutychius and the Fifth Ecumenical Council’, in Kathegetria. Essays presented to Joan Hussey for her 80th birthday (Camberley 1988), 225-247.
Cameron, A., ‘Models of the Past in the Late Sixth Century: The Life of the Patriarch Eutychius’, in Reading the Past in Late Antiquity (ed. Clarke, G.) (Singapore 1990), 205-223.
Duval, Y.-M., ‘La discussion entre l’apocrisiaire Grégoire et le patriarche Eutychios au sujet de la résurrection de la chair: l’arrière-plan doctrinal et occidental’, in Grégoire le Grand (ed. Fontaine, J. et al.) (Paris 1986), 347-366.
Price, R., The acts of the Council of Constantinople of 553 (Liverpool 2009).
|ID||Name||Name in Source||Identity||S00033||Mary, Mother of Christ||Certain||S01383||Eutychios, patriarch of Constantinople, ob. 582||Εὐτύχιος||Certain|
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