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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Eudocia

b. circa 401, Athens; d. 460, Jerusalem

The daughter of an Athenian philosopher, Eudocia married Theodosius II, the Eastern Roman emperor, in 421. She was a philanthropist and skilled politician and, although an Orthodox Christian, went to court to protect pagans and Jews from persecution. In 438, she made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, bringing valuable relics back to Constantinople. For reasons unclear, around 444 she left the imperial court and returned to Jerusalem, where she remained the rest of her life, building churches and monasteries. A highly educated and cultured woman, Eudocia wrote religious poetry, fragments of which survive.