samedi 18 février 2017


Saint Flavien de Constantinople

Patriarche, malmené lors du brigandage d'Ephèse ( 449)

que les Eglises d'Orient fêtent quelques jours plus tôt. 

Il fut victime de son zèle pour l'Orthodoxie en luttant contre l'hérésie monophysite d'Eutychès. Alors qu'il assistait au concile convoqué par l'empereur Théodose II, le 8 août 449, dans une église d'Ephèse, une foule de soldats, de matelots et de moines exaltés envahirent l'église et rouèrent de coups les Pères conciliaires hostiles à Eutychès. Ce furent ces gaillards qui, ce jour-là, décidèrent qu'il n'y avait qu'une seule nature en Jésus-Christ. Ils s'acharnèrent sur saint Flavien qui fut jeté en prison et mourut peu de jours après des coups reçus, parce qu'il restait attaché à la foi de l'Église. Le Pape saint Léon approuva la conduite de Flavien qui fut réhabilité par le concile œcuménique de Chalcédoine en 451 qui le proclama saint et martyr.

Lorsque l'empereur Théodose lui demanda une offrande en or, il lui envoya les vases sacrés de la Grande Eglise Saint Sophie avec ces paroles :" En fait d'or, nous avons ces vases sacrés qui sont la propriété de Dieu." Théodose retira son exigence. Quand Eutychès refusa les décisions du concile de 448 et écrivit au pape de Rome pour lui donner sa version, Flavien écrivit également au pape dont la réponse est restée célèbre sous le nom de ‘tome à Flavien" et fut lue au concile de Chalcédoine en 451. Quelques années plus tard, Eutychès intrigua auprès de l'empereur et, lors d'un pseudo-concile, connu sous le nom de "brigandage d'Ephèse", il obtint que saint Flavien soit destitué, les légats du pape renvoyés. Comme saint Jean Chrysostome, saint Flavien mourut sur le chemin de l'exil en raison des mauvais traitements et des coups qu'il avait reçus.

Commémoraison de saint Flavien, évêque de Constantinople. Pour avoir défendu la foi catholique à Éphèse, il fut déposé, frappé à coups de poing et de pied par les partisans de l’impie Dioscore et mourut peu après, sur la route de l’exil, en 449.

Martyrologe romain

Flavian of Constantinople BM (RM)

Died in Hypepe, Lydia, 449. Appointed patriarch of Constantinople to succeed Saint Proclus in 447, Flavian incurred the enmity of Chrysaphius, chancellor of Emperor Theodosius III, by withholding the customary bribe on his accession to the see and that of the emperor himself by refusing to make his sister, Pulcheria, a deaconess. It was not long before Flavian crowned these political nightmares by denouncing the heresy of Eutyches, abbot of a nearby monastery and a favorite of the imperial court (he was godfather to Chrysaphius). Flavian maintained that Jesus was fully human against those like Eutyches who taught that he had only a divine nature. The condemnation was repeated by Eusebius of Dorylaeum at a synod called by Flavian in 448, and Eutyches was deposed and excommunicated. In this Flavian was supported by Pope Leo the Great who sent Flavian a letter, which we now call the 'Tome of Leo,' asserting that in Jesus Christ 'there was born true God in the entire and perfect nature of true man.'

Chrysaphius persuaded Theodosius to convene a council at Ephesus (the 'Robber Synod') in 449. Dioscorus of Alexandria presided, and in meetings characterized by violence and intimidation, the emperor's soldiers refused to allow Leo's letter to be read. Eusebius and Flavian were deposed and Dioscorus was declared patriarch. The order was enforced by the soldiers who required each bishop present to sign the deposition order. Flavian was so badly beaten that he died three days later in prison.

The acts of this 'robber synod' were reversed when Theodosius died in 450 and the Council of Chalcedon in 451 reinstated Eusebius, deposed and exiled Dioscoros, and proclaimed Flavian a saint and a martyr. Upon his accession to the throne in 451, Emperor Marcian had Chrysaphius executed (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia)

St. Flavian
Bishop of Constantinople, date of birth unknown; d. at Hypæpa in Lydia, August, 449. Nothing is known of him before his elevation to the episcopate save that he was a presbyter and skeuophylax or sacristan, of the Church of Constantinople, and noted for the holiness of his life. His succession to St. Proclus as bishop was in opposition to the wishes of the eunuch Chrysaphius minister of Emperor Theodosius, who sought to bring him into imperial disfavour. He persuaded the emperor to require of the new bishop certain eulogiae on the occasion of his appointment, but scornfully rejected the proffered blessed bread on the plea that the emperor desired gifts of gold. Flavian's intrepid refusal, on the ground of the impropriety of thus disposing of church the treasures, aroused considerable enmity against him. Pulcheria, the emperor's sister, being Flavian's staunch advocate Chrysaphius secured the support of the Empress Eudocia. Although their first efforts to involve St. Flavian in disgrace miscarried, an opportunity soon presented itself. At a council of bishops convened at Constantinople by Flavian, 8 Nov., 448, to settle a dispute which had arisen among his clergy, the archimandrite Eutyches, who was a relation of Chrysaphius was accused of heresy by Eusebius of Dorylaeum. (For the proceedings of the council see EUSEBIUS OF DORYLAEUM; EUTYCHES.) Flavian exercised clemency and urged moderation, but in the end the refusal of Eutyches to make an orthodox declaration on the two natures of Christ forced Flavian to pronounce the sentence of degradation and excommunication. He forwarded a full report of the council to Pope Leo I, who in turn gave his approval to Flavian's decision (21 May, 449) and the following month (13 June) sent him his famous "Dogmatic Letter". Eutyches' complaint that justice had been violated in the council and that the Acts had been tampered with resulted in an imperial order for the revision of Acts, executed (8 and 27 April, 449). No materior could be established, and Flavian was justified.

The long-standing rivalry between Alexandria and Constantinoble now became a strong factor in the dissensions. It had been none the less keen since the See of Constantinoble had been officially declared next in dignity to Rome, and Dioscurus, Bishop of Alexandria, was quite ready to join forces with Eutyches against Flavian. Even before the revision of the Acts of Flavian's council, Chrysaphius had persuaded the emperor of the necessity for an oecumenical council to adjust matters, and the decree went forth that one should convene at Ephesus under the presidency of Dioscurus, who also controlled the attendance of bishops, Flavian and six bishops who had assisted at the previous synod were allowed no voice, being, as it were, on trial. (For a full account of the proceedings see ROBBER COUNCIL OF EPHESUS). Eutyches was absolved of heresy, and despite the protest of the papal legate Hilary (later pope), who by his Contradicitur annulled the decisions of the council, Flavian was condemned and deposed. In the violent scenes which ensued he was so ill-used that three days later he died in his place of exile. Anatolius, a partisan of Dioscurus, was appointed to succeed him.

St. Flavian was repeatedly vindicated by Pope Leo, whose epistle of commendation failed to reach him before his death. The pope also wrote in his favour to Theodosius, Pulcheria, and the clergy of Constantinople, besides convening a council at Rome, wherein he designated the Council of Ephesus Ephecinum non judicium sed latrocinium. At the council of Chalcedon (451) the Acts of the Robber Council were annulled and Flavian eulogized as a martyr for the Faith. Pope Hilary had Flavian's death represented pictorially in a Roman church erected by him. On Pulcheria's accession to power, after the death of Theodosius, she brought the remains of her friend to Constantinople where they were received in triumph and interred with those of his predecessors in the see. In the Greek Menology and the Roman Martyrology his feast is entered 18 February, the anniversary of the translation of his body. Relics of St. Flavian are honoured in Italy.

St. Flavian's appeal to Pope Leo against the Robber Council has been published by Amelli in his work "S. Leone Magno e l'Oriente" (Monte Cassino, 1890), also by Lacey (Cambridge, 1903). Two other (Greek and Latin) letters to Leo are preserved in Migne, P.L. (LIV, 723-32, 743-51), and one to Emperor Theodosius also in Migne, P.G. (LXV, 889-92).

Rudge, F.M. "St. Flavian." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 6. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 18 Feb. 2017 <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Joseph P. Thomas.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. September 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.