Aelia Flavia Flaccilla Augusta
|Also Known As:||"Empress of the Roman Empire", "Augusta"|
|Death:||Died in Constantinople|
|Managed by:||Private User|
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About Aelia Flavia Flaccilla Augusta
Aelia Flavia Flaccilla (died 385), first wife of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I. She was of Hispanian Roman descent. During her marriage to Theodosius, she gave birth to two sons — future Emperors Arcadius and Honorius — and a daughter, Aelia Pulcheria. She was given the title of Augusta, as her coinage shows.
Her ancestry is conjectural, based on the work of Ford Mommaerts. Her father might have been a man named Afranius and her mother a woman named Syagria. Therefore, she might have been a great granddaughter of Afranius Hannibalianus and of Postumius Syagrius. This reconstruction would make her a sister of Flavius Afranius Syagrius, Consul 382.
Empress, wife of Theodosius the Great, died c. A.D. 385 or 386. Like Theodosius himself, his first wife, Ælia Flaccilla, was of Spanish descent. She may have been the daughter of Claudius Antonius, Prefect of Gaul, who was consul in 382. Her marriage with Theodosius probably took place in the year 376, when his father, the comes Theodosius, fell into disfavour and he himself withdrew to Cauca in Gallæcia, for her eldest son, afterwards Emperor Arcadius, was born towards the end of the following year. In the succeeding years she presented two more children to her husband Honorius (384), who later became emperor, and Pulcheria, who died in early childhood, shortly before her mother. Gregory of Nyssa states expressly that she had three children; consequently the Gratian mentioned by St. Ambrose, together with Pulcheria, was probably not her son. Flaccilla was, like her husband, a zealous supporter of the Nicene Creed and prevented the conference between the emperor and the Arian Eunomius (Sozomen, Church History VII.6). On the throne she was a shining example of Christian virtue and ardent charity. St. Ambrose describes her as "a soul true to God" (Fidelis anima Deo. — "De obitu Theodosii", n. 40, in P.L., XVI, 1462). In his panegyric St. Gregory of Nyssa bestowed the highest praise on her virtuous life and pictured her as the helpmate of the emperor in all good works, an ornament of the empire, a leader of justice, an image of beneficence. He praises her as filled with zeal for the Faith, as a pillar of the Church, as a mother of the indigent. Theodoret in particular exalts her charity and benevolence (Church History V.19, ed. Valesius, III, 192 sq.). He tells us how she personally tended cripples, and quotes a saying of hers: "To distribute money belongs to the imperial dignity, but I offer up for the imperial dignity itself personal service to the Giver." Her humility also attracts a special meed of praise from the church historian. Flaccilla was buried in Constantinople, St. Gregory of Nyssa delivering her funeral oration. She is venerated in the Greek Church as a saint, and her feast is kept on 14 September. The Bollandists (Acta SS., Sept., IV, 142) are of the opinion that she is not regarded as a saint but only as venerable, but her name stands in the Greek Menæa and Synaxaria followed by words of eulogy, as is the case with the other saints (cf. e.g. Synaxarium eccl. Constantinopolitanæ, ed. Delehaye, Brussels, 1902, col. 46, under 14 Sept.). Sources
GREGORY OF NYSSA, Oratio funebris de Placilla in P.G., XLVI, 877-92; THEMISTIUS, Oratio, ed. DINDORF, 637 sqq.; TILLEMONT. Histoire des empereurs, V (Brussels, 1732), 62, 109 sq., notes 33, 40 sq.; ARGLES in Dict. Christ. Biog., s.v. Flaccilla (1); GÜLDENPENNING AND IFLAND, Der Kaiser Theodosius der Grosse (Halle, 1878), 56, 132. About this page
APA citation. Kirsch, J.P. (1909). Ælia Flaccilla. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved February 22, 2015 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06089b.htm
MLA citation. Kirsch, Johann Peter. "Ælia Flaccilla." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 6. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 22 Feb. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06089b.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Douglas J. Potter. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. September 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.
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