June 2007 - Volume 11, Issue 11

Saint Of The Month

St. Cyril Of Alexandria – June 27

Photo of a painting of St. Cyril of AlexandriaCyril was born in Egypt in 376. As a boy, he was trained in a monastery, and later he studied theology and the classics in Alexandria. His uncle Theophilus, the patriarch of Alexandria and a man known for his harsh and rigid temperament, ordained Cyril at the turn of the fifth century. Cyril succeeded Theophilus in 412. According to historians, Cyril seemed to inherit his uncle's inflexible nature.

At the time of Cyril's rule, Alexandria was overrun with violence and intolerance. Cyril exerted his considerable power over any group that disputed the orthodox beliefs of the Church. He closed down the churches of the Novations, a sect that opposed the doctrine of forgiveness, and Cyril also drove out the Jews, who were killing Christians.

Cyril became a champion of the Church in his debate with Nestorius, the Archbishop of Constantinople. Nestorius taught that Christ had two distinct natures, human and divine. According to him, Mary had given birth to a man and could not be called Theotokos, the Greek word for "God-bearing." Cyril argued, with great wisdom and logic, that this heresy threatened the doctrine of Incarnation. They both presented their cases to the Pope. Cyril was victorious, and Nestorius was condemned and excommunicated. For the next few years, Cyril worked to reconcile Nestorius's followers with the Church.

A brilliant theologian who restored Mary to her rightful place of honor, Cyril helped clarify the doctrine of Incarnation, which is still held by the Church today. He was named a Doctor of the Church in 1882.

source of light in every age,
the Virgin conceived and bore Your Son
who is called Wonderful God, Prince of Peace.
May her prayer, the gift of a mother's love,
be Your people's joy through all ages.
May her response, born of a humble heart,
draw Your Spirit to rest on Your people.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.


From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives