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Flavian of Constantinople

Flavian or Phlabianus (d. August 11, 449), an adherent of the Antiochene school, and bishop of Constantinople (446 - 449).

He is described by Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopoulos as being at his election guardian of the sacred vessels of the great church of Constantinople, with a reputation for a heavenly life.

Roman Emperor Theodosius II was staying at Chalcedon during his consecration. Chrysaphius his minister immediately plotted against the new patriarch. Foiled in an attempt to extort a present of gold to the emperor for acknowledging his elevation, Chrysaphius, with the empress Aelia Eudocia for an ally, planned two methods of attack against Flavian--the direct subversion of the authority of the emperor's sister Pulcheria; and the support of Flavian's rival Eutyches. Pulcheria had devoted herself to a religious life; let the emperor order the prelate to ordain her a deaconess. Flavian, receiving the emperor's command to this effect, and beyond measure grieved, sent a private message to Pulcheria, who divined the scheme, and to avoid a struggle retired to Hebdomum, where for a time she led a private life (Theophanes, Chronicle).

Previously Flavian which deposed Eutyches in 448, but in the following year he was deposed by the council of Ephesus (the "Robber Synod"), which reinstated Eutyches in his office.

Flavian presided at a council of 40 bishops at Constantinople on November 8 448, to compose a difference between the metropolitan bishop of Sardis and two bishops of his province. Eusebius, bishop of Dorylaeum, presented his indictment against Eutyches. The speech of Flavian remains, concluding with this appeal to the bishop of Dorylaeum: "Let your reverence condescend to visit him and argue with him about the true faith, and if he shall be found in very truth to err, then he shall be called to our holy assembly, and shall answer for himself." For the particulars of this great controversy see Dioscorus of Alexandria and Eutyches.

Flavian's death shortly afterwards was attributed, by a pious fiction, to ill treatment at the hands of his theological opponents. On August 8, 449 the Latrocinium assembled at Ephesus, Eutyches violently attacked the archbishop. On August 11, 449, Flavian passed away at Hypepe in Lydia from the injuries he received from this attack.

When Pulcheria returned to power, after her brother's death, she had Flavian's remains, which had been buried obscurely, brought with great pomp to Constantinople. It was more like a triumph, says the chronicler, than a funeral procession. The council of Chalcedon canonized him as a martyr, and in the Latin Church he is commemorated on February 18.

Among the documents which touch on the career of Flavian are the reply of Petrus Chrysologus, archbishop of Ravenna, to a circular appeal of Eutyches, and various letters of Theodoret. Pope Leo I wrote Flavian a beautiful letter before hearing that he was dead.


Leo. Mag. Epp. 23, 26, 27, 28, 44; Facund, Pro Trib. Capit. viii. 5; xii. 5; Evagr. ii. 2. etc.; Liberatus Diac. Breviar. xi. xii.; Sozomen H. E. ix. 1; Theophan. Chronogr. pp. 84-88, etc.; Niceph. Constant. xiv. 47.

This article uses text from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica and A Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century A.D., with an Account of the Principal Sects and Heresies by Henry Wace.

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List of Constantinople patriarchs Succeeded by: