Pope Saint Eutychian apparently did not live a very exciting life, for there is no information known about him other than his name and the date he probably came to be bishop of Rome. We are not even sure he was on the throne. The Catholic Church states his reign as January, 275 to December 7, 283.
This was a time of relative quiet in the Roman Church. There was no persecution or outright hostilities. However, the Empire was in deep trouble. This era is called the Crisis of the Third Century. Emperors were assassinated with great frequency. While the Church fought battles over dogma, the Empire, in only 20 years, had to go through many battles over land:
Emperor Valerian, trying to extend his rule, was captured and enslaved in 260, conse-quently dying in Persia (now Iran). Several emperors of short duration followed him.
The Franks invaded the Germanic part of the Roman Empire in 260, also. The governor of the district, Postumus, defeated them, sent them running, killed the imperial heir and set up his own empire, the Gallic Empire. He ruled until 268, when he, in turn was killed and a series of Roman men took turns ruling the breakaway empire.
Vandals, who had moved from Scandinavia to Poland, invaded the Roman province of Pannonia. This consisted of what is now west Austria, parts of Hungary and parts of old Yugoslavia.
Palmyra, Syria broke away from the Roman Empire in 270 and declared its own empire. Within three years, the territory stretched from Egypt to Asia Minor.
The Alamanni tribes (parts of Germanic Switzerland and Alsace) invaded north Italy as far south as the Po River.
The Goths invaded from East Germanic lands as far south as the Balkans and Athens.
And then there was the revolt in Gaul.
These events all happened in the five years previous to Eutychian's rise to the papacy. In 270, Aurelian became emperor and spent the next five and a half years battling all these problems, while trying to unify the religion of the Empire under the one Sun God. He was less interested in in the particular ways that any of his citizens worshipped. His final campaign was to squelch the revolt in Gaul and to finally attack Persia. However, Aurelian was assassinated by his own men before he could get there.
What followed was another series of emperors assassinated before they could do anything, until Probus became emperor in September, 276. He, too, was required away from Rome, fighting the Vandals in the east and revolts in the west. He was assassinated, in turn.
Eutychian was thus free to fight internal battles which threatened to divide the Church. The two biggest battles were the Novationist schism and the Trinitarian controversy. Novatian had begun his campaign during the time of Pope Cornelius. The persecutions had scared many into denouncing Christianity to save themselves. After peace came, many wanted to come back to communion with the Church. Could they be given absolution? Novatian said no. He was so adamant and pushed his teaching so convincingly that he was elected pope by some in Rome, claiming primacy from 251 to 258. This led to the question of whether a schismatic presbyter could validly baptize someone, or did that person need to be rebaptized. Although previous popes declared that not to be so, it was still a point of contention during Eutychian's papacy. Although Novatian left Rome during another series of persecutions, giving up his claim to antipope, and no one hearing from him again, his concepts lasted for several centuries.
The other battle waged in Rome was the question of the Trinity: It was obvious that God the Father, God the Son and Gd the Holy Spirit were mentioned individually in the New Testament. Were they three modes of God's being? Or were they three "persons" in one God? There is no record of Eutychian's opinion. The established concept was not decided on his watch.
Under Eutychian's papacy, and the next few, as well, the Roman Catholic Church became a main cultural institution in the empire. Peaceful acceptance of the religion had begun. This is his legacy.
St. Eutychian was the last pope buried in the papal crypt at the Catacombs of Callixtus.