St. Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria, Confessor
From Nicephorus’s Chronicle, the Paschal Chronicle, Photius, Bibl. Cod. 181, 208, 226, 230, &c.
ST. EULOGIUS was a Syrian by birth, and embraced young the monastic state in that country. The Eutychian heresy was then split into various sects, as it usually happens among such as have left the centre of union. These, by their tyranny and the fury of their contests, had thrown the churches of Syria and Egypt into much confusion, and a great part of the monks of Syria were at that time become remarkable for their loose morals and errors against faith. Eulogius learned from the fall of others to stand more watchfully and firmly upon his guard, and was not less distinguished by the innocence and sanctity of his manners than by the purity of his doctrine. Having, by an enlarged pursuit of learning, attained to a great variety of useful knowledge in the different branches of literature, he set himself to the study of divinity in the sacred sources of that science, which are the holy scriptures, and the tradition of the church explained in its councils, and the approved writings of its eminent pastors. From the study of his retreat he made this his chief study, to which he directed every thing else; and, as his industry was indefatigable, his parts quick, his apprehensions lively, and his judgment solid, his progress was such as to qualify him to be an illustrious champion for the truth, worthy to be ranked with St. Gregory the Great and St. Eutychius as one of the greatest lights of the church in the age wherein he lived. His character received still a brighter lustre from his sincere humility and spirit of holy compunction and prayer. In the great dangers and necessities of the church he was drawn out of his solitude, and made priest of Antioch by the patriarch St. Anastasius, who was promoted to that dignity in 561, and, dying in 598, was succeeded by Anastasius the Younger. St. Eulogius, whilst he lived at Antioch, entered into the strictest connexions with St. Eutychius, patriarch of Constantinople, and joined his forces with that holy prelate against the enemies of the truth. 1
The Emperor Justinian and his nephew and successor, Justin the Younger, had been the plunderers of their empire, and the grievous oppressors of their subjects; the former to support his extravagance and vanity, the latter to gratify his insatiable avarice and scandalous lusts. Justin II., dying in 576, after a reign of ten years and ten months, Tiberius Constantine, a Thracian, and a virtuous prince, was raised to the throne. He applied himself to heal the wounds caused during the former reigns, both in the church and state. His charities in all parts of the empire were boundless, and all his treasuries were open to the poor. Amongst the evils with which the church was then afflicted, the disorders and confusion into which the tyranny of the Eutychians had thrown the church of Alexandria, called aloud for a powerful remedy, and an able and zealous pastor, endued with prudence and vigour to apply them. Upon the death of the patriarch John, St. Eulogius was raised to that patriarchal dignity towards the close of the year 583, at the earnest desire of the emperor, who, having reigned only six years and ten months, died the same year, leaving his son-in-law, Mauritius, his successor in the imperial throne. Our saint was obliged to make a journey to Constantinople about two years after his promotion, in order to concert measures concerning certain affairs of his church. He met at court Saint Gregory the Great, and contracted with him a holy friendship, so that, from that time, they seemed to be one heart and one soul. Among the letters of St. Gregory, we have several extant which he wrote to our saint. St. Eulogius composed many excellent works against the Acephali, and other sects of Eutychians. Photius has preserved us valuable fragments of some of these treatises; also of eleven discourses of our saint, the ninth of which is a commendation of a monastic life; likewise of his six books against the Novations of Alexandria, in the fifth of which he expressly sets himself to prove that the martyrs are to be honoured. 1 Photius makes no mention of the treatise of St. Eulogius against the Agnoëtæ, a sect of Eutychians, who ascribed to Christ, as man, ignorance of the day of judgment, and of many other things. St. Gregory the Great, to whose censure the author submitted it, sent him his approbation, with high commendations, saying: “I have not found any thing but what is admirable in your writings,” &c. 2 Saint Eulogius did not long survive Saint Gregory, for he died in the year 606, or, according to others, in 608. 2
We admire the great actions and the glorious triumphs of the saints; yet it is not so much in these that their sanctity consisted, as in the constant habitual heroic disposition of their souls. There is no one who does not sometimes do good actions; but he can never be called virtuous who does well only by humour, or by fits and starts, not by steady habits. It is an habitual poverty of spirit, humility, meekness, patience, purity, piety, and charity, which our Divine Master recommends to us. We must take due pains to plant the seeds of virtues in our souls, must watch and labour continually to improve and strengthen them, that they may be converted into nature, and be the principle by which all the affections of our souls, and all the actions of our lives are governed. If these pure heroic sentiments perfectly possess and fill our hearts, the whole tenour of our conduct, whether in private or in public life, will be an uniform train of virtuous actions, which will derive their perfection from the degree of fervour and purity from which they spring, and which, according to the essential property of virtue, is always improving, and always improvable. 3
Note 1. Phot. Cod. 182, p. 411.
Note 2. St. Greg. l. 8, ep. 42.
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume IX: September. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. September 13.