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Feast Day - March 18

Lived (c. 315 – March 18, 386)



Cyril lived in a time of great crisis - Arianism: a teaching that denied the divinity of Christ. He himself was being accused of this heresy by Saint Jerome but was vindicated by Men of his own time and finally being declared a doctor of the Church in 1822.

Brought up in Jerusalem and well-educated, especially in Holy Scriptures, he was ordained a priest by the bishop of Jerusalem and assigned to catechize those preparing for Baptism during lent and the newly baptized during the Easter season. His Catechesis remain valuable as examples of the ritual and theology of the Church in the mid-fourth century.

There are different reports about how he  became the bishop of Jerusalem but it is certain that he was validly consecrated by the bishops of the province. Since one of them was an Arian, Acacius, it may have been expected that his “cooperation” would follow. Conflict soon rose between Cyril and Acacius, bishop of the rival nearby see of Caesarea. Cyril was summoned to a council, accused of insubordination and of selling Church property to relieve the poor. Probably, however, a theological difference was also involved. He was condemned, driven from Jerusalem, and later vindicated, not without some association with and help from Semi-Arians. Half his episcopate was spent in exile; his first experience was repeated twice. He finally returned to find Jerusalem torn with heresy, schism and strife, and wracked with crime. Even Saint Gregory of Nyssa, who was sent to help, left in despair.

The two bishops were at the Council of Constantinople, where the amended form of the Nicene Creed was promoted in 381. Saint Cyril accepted the word consubstantialthat is, Christ is of the same substance or nature as the Father. Some said it was an act of repentance, but the bishops of the Council praised him as a champion of orthodoxy against the Arians. Though not friendly with the greatest defender of orthodoxy against the Arians, Cyril may be counted among those whom Saint Athanasius called “brothers, who mean what we mean, and differ only about the word consubstantial.”

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