Very little is known about Cyril of Alexandria’s life from contemporary sources. Cyril of Alexandria own writings (with the exception of a few insignificant details in the Paschal Letters). Which contain almost no biographical details. In contrast to other theological personalities of the time. Such as the Cappadocians, Augustine or Jerome, where biographical information abounds.
Saint Cyril of Alexandria is celebrated on June 9 and January 18 together with Saint Athanasius. He is undoubtedly one of the most important representatives of patristic literature of the first five Christian centuries. He is the twentieth and fourth bishop to ascend the throne of St Mark the Apostle, succeeding his uncle Theophilus (385-412).
A remarkable personality, “perhaps the strongest theological spirit endowed by God”. To face the doctrinal challenges of his time, he would dominate church politics. In the early 5th century, distinguished for his decisive theological contribution to the formulation. Defence and promotion of Christological dogma.
When was Saint Cyril born?
By the Monophysite bishop John of Nikiu (second half of the 7th century). The author of a chronicle probably written in Greek and translated into Arabic in 1601. In the Ethiopian language, the only version that has survived.
Saint Cyril was born around 375-380 in Theodosiou, in Lower Egypt, his father’s hometown, according to the Chronicle of Loan of Nikiu. According to the information suggested by this chronicle. Which does not lack elements that are inconsistent with reality. Which are also typical of the lives of saints, the future mother of St. Cyril. And his uncle Theophilus, the future Patriarch of Alexandria, were born in Memphis, into an idolatrous family.
He entrusted to the care of an Ethiopian slave of the family. One morning, taking them to the temple of Artemis and Apollo. As soon as they entered, a statue of the gods collapsed in front of them and shattered. Terrified, the slave left Memphis, taking refuge in Alexandria. Where she began attending Christian meetings.
Biography of Cyril
Full name: Constantine Cyril
Date of birth/ Feast Day: 0826 AD
Year of death: 0869 AD
Place of birth: Thessalonica
Father's name: Leo
Mother's name: Maria
Life accomplishments: Constantine receives the name Cyril and becomes a monk. His biographer testifies to his last moments when his prayers were only for the forgiveness of his sins and the strengthening of the Slavic people, still feeling his duty as shepherd of this land.
Death cause: He got ill.
How old was Cyril when Theophilus ascended the throne?
Theophilus, his uncle, ascended the throne on 20 July 385, when Cyril was no more than 10 years old; it is not excluded that he was in charge of his nephew’s education.
Thus, after completing his primary education, he may have studied rhetoric in depth – as evidenced by the quality of the style of his writings – and then, according to most scholars, retired to the wilderness of Nitria, where the practice of monastic devotions was combined with the study of the Holy Scriptures and patristic texts.
Read also: Who were Methodius and Cyril?
Who convened the Synod of Alexandria?
Theophilus’ relations with the monastic party (the case of the Long Friars) and with the capital of the Empire (the case of St. Lawrence Chrysostom) are only two of the difficulties that affected his early years as bishop.
The condemnation of Origenism (including anthropomorphism) and its adherents at the Synod of Alexandria, convened by Theophilus in 400, created unrest and unrest among the monks of the wilderness of Nitria, who split into two parties.
Fifty of the Origenist monks united under the authority of the Long Friars; the latter, refusing to accept the decisions of the synod, fled to Constantinople, afraid of the armed persecution unleashed against them.
- St. Cyril of Alexandria taught that in Christ there are two natures, one divine and one human, united in one person, that of the Son of God. And because the same person, born from eternity from the Father, is born as a man from the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God is “Theotokos”, “Birth of God”.
- The Third Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431 officially recognized the title of “Theotokos” of the Mother of God.
- Saint Cyril of Alexandria passed away in 0444 AD.
The Jews, probably knowing that the bishop did not admire Cyril. But, on the contrary, “hated the power of the bishops. Because they undermined the civil power” (13:30), denounce HIerax. A professor of literature and also one of the regular hearers of Cyril of Alexandria sermons (13:24-27). To the bishop Orestes, as one of the men sent by St. Cyril to stir up the crowd and cause disorder (13:27-29).
Immediately arresting him, Orestes subjects him to torture in the theatre itself (13, 32-33). St. Cyril rebukes the Jews, asking them to cease such practices. And attacks against the Christians in order to avoid the consequences of their attitude (13, 34-36). Feeling threatened and hurt, the Jewish crowd, overcome with indignation (13, 36-37). Plans an attack against the Christians during the night: they spread the news in the city. That the church of St. Alexander is in flames.