Commemorated on March 18
Archbishop of Jerusalem, was born in Jerusalem in the year 315 and was
raised in strict Christian piety. Having reached the age of maturity, he became
a monk, and in the year 346 he became a presbyter. In the year 350, upon the
death of archbishop Maximos, he succeeded him upon the Jerusalem cathedra-seat.
In the dignity of
Patriarch of Jerusalem, Saint Cyril zealously fought against the heresies of
Arius and Macedonias. In doing so, he brought upon himself the animosity of the
Arianising bishops, who sought to have him deposed and banished from Jerusalem.
In the year 351 at
Jerusalem, on the feastday of Pentecost at the 3rd hour of the day, there
occurred a miraculous portent: the Holy Cross appeared in the heavens, shining
with a radiant light. It stretched forth from Golgotha over the Mount of
Olives. Saint Cyril reported about this portent to the Arian emperor
Constantius (351-363), hoping to convert him to Orthodoxy.
The heretic Akakios
– deposed by the Council of Sardica, was formerly the metropolitan of
Caesarea, and in collaboration with the emperor he resolved to have Saint Cyril
removed. An intense famine struck Jerusalem, and Saint Cyril went through all
his own wealth on acts of charity. But since the famine did not abate, the
saint began to pawn off church items, buying on the money in exchange wheat for
the starving. The enemies of the saint mongered about a scandalous rumour, that
they had apparently seen a woman in the city dancing around in clergy garb. And
taking advantage of this rumour, the heretics by force threw out the saint.
The saint found
shelter with bishop Siluan in Tarsus. After this, a Local Council gathered at
Seleucia, at which there were about 150 bishops, and among them Saint Cyril.
The heretical metropolitan Akakios did not want to allow him to take a seat,
but the Council would not consent to this. Akakios thereupon quit the Council
and in front of the emperor and the Arian patriarch Eudoxios he denounced both
the Council and Saint Cyril. The emperor had the saint imprisoned.
When the emperor
Julian the Apostate (361-363) ascended the throne, seemingly out of piety he
repealed all the decrees of Constantius, directed against the Orthodox. Saint
Cyril returned to his own flock. But after a certain while, when Julian had
become secure upon the throne, he openly apostacised and renounced Christ. He
permitted the Jews to start rebuilding the Jerusalem Temple that had been
destroyed by the Romans, and he even provided them a portion of the means for
the building from state monies. Saint Cyril predicted, that the words of the
Saviour about the destruction of the Temple down to its very stones (Lk. 21: 6)
would undoubtedly transpire, and the blasphemous intent of Julian would come to
naught. And thus one time there occurred such a powerful earthquake, that even
the solidly set foundation of the ancient Solomon Temple shifted in its place,
and what had been erected anew fell down and shattered in dust. When the Jews
nevertheless started construction anew, a fire came down from the heavens and
destroyed the tools of the workmen. Great terror seized everyone. And on the
following night there appeared on the garb of the Jews the Sign of the Cross,
which they by no means could extirpate.
After this Heavenly
confirmation of the prediction of Saint Cyril, they banished him again, and the
cathedra-seat was occupied by Saint Kyriakos. But Saint Kyriakos soon suffered
a martyr's death (+ 363, Comm. 28 October).
After the emperor
Julian perished in 363, Saint Cyril returned to his cathedra-seat, but during
the reign of the emperor Valens (364-378) he was sent into exile for a third
time. It was only under the holy emperor Saint Theodosius the Great (379-395)
that he finally returned to his archpastoral activity. In the year 381 Saint
Cyril participated in the Second OEcumenical Council, which condemned the
heresy of Macedonias and affirmed the Nicea-Constantinople Credal-Symbol of
Of the works of Saint
Cyril, particularly known are 23 Instructions (18 are Catechetical for those
preparing to accept Holy Baptism, and 5 are for the newly-baptised) and 2
Discourses on Gospel themes: "About the Paralytic" and
"Concerning the Transformation of Water into Wine at Cana".
At the basis of the
Catechetical Instructions is a detailed explanation of the Symbol of Faith. The
saint suggests that the Christian should inscribe the Symbol of Faith upon
"the tablets of the heart". "The articles of the faith, – teaches
Saint Cyril, – were compiled not through human cleverness, but has therein
gathered everything most important from all the entire Scripture, and as such
it is compiled into a single teaching of faith. Just as the mustard seed within
its small kernel has within it contained all its plethora of branches, thus
precisely also does the faith in its several declarations combine all the pious
teachings of the Old and the New Testaments".
Saint Cyril died in
the year 386.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.