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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

THESE letters were carried by no less illustrious a personage than the mother of the emperor, even by her whose piety was reverenced by all, and who was most highly blessed in her maternal capacity, having been the means of producing that great light which she still nourished by religious counsels. She did not shrink from the fatigue of the journey on account of her extreme old age, but undertook it a little before her death, which occurred in her eightieth year. When she arrived at the place where the Saviour suffered, she immediately ordered the idolatrous temple, which had been there erected, to be destroyed, and the very materials to be removed. The tomb, which had been so long concealed, was discovered; and three crosses, the memorials of the Lord, were perceived near it. All were of opinion that one of these crosses was that of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that the other two were those of the thieves who were crucified with him. Yet they could not discern upon which one the body of the Lord had been nailed, and upon which his blood had fallen. But the wise and holy Macarius, the bishop of the city, succeeded in resolving this question. After engaging in prayer, he induced a lady of rank, who had been long suffering from disease, to touch each of the crosses, and the efficacious power residing in that of the Saviour manifested its identity. In fact, it had scarcely been brought near the lady, when the inveterate disease left her, and she was healed. The mother of the emperor, on being informed of the accomplishment of what she had most desired, gave orders that some of the nails should be driven into the royal helmet, in order that the head of her child might be preserved from the darts of his enemies; and she ordered some of the other nails to be fixed in the bridle of his horse, not only to ensure the safety of the emperor, but also to fulfil an ancient prophecy; for Zachariah, the prophet, predicted, that “what is upon the bridles of the horses shall be holiness unto the Lord Almighty.” She had part of the cross of our Saviour conveyed to the palace, and the rest was enclosed in a covering of silver, and committed to the care of the bishop of the city, whom she exhorted to preserve it carefully, in order that it might be transmitted uninjured to posterity. She then sent every where for workmen and for materials, and caused the most spacious and most magnificent churches to be here erected. It is unnecessary to describe their beauty and grandeur; for all the pious, if I may so speak, visited and viewed with admiration these magnificent productions of art.

This celebrated and admirable empress performed another action worthy of being remembered. She assembled a number of young women who had vowed perpetual virginity, and made them recline on couches, while she presented them with meat and with a beverage mixed with wine, and waited upon them; she then brought them water to wash their hands.

After performing other laudable actions, the empress returned to her son. Not long after, she tranquilly entered upon another and a better life, after having given her son much pious advice and her fervent blessing. After her death, those honours were rendered to her memory which her stedfast and entire adherence to God deserved.








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