St Cyril of Alexandria
(Commemorated 9th June and 18th January)
St Cyril of Alexandria lived from 376 to 444. He was the nephew of Theophilus, the Patriarch of Alexandria, and received a classical education in languages and philosophy. St Cyril was Patriarch of Alexandria, succeeding his uncle, from 412 to 444. He left many works and commentaries on the Gospels of St Luke and St John, as well as the Epistles of St Paul.
St Cyril was well-versed in theology, contributing greatly to the honouring of the Theotokos in our Church. He fought the heresy of Nestorius, who was the Patriarch of Constantinople by appointment of the Emperor. Nestorius took away the use of the word “Theotokos” in the Divine Liturgy, which had been used by our Church until then, with the word “Christotokos”. The names used by Nestorius for Panagia, “Mother of Christ” and “Mother of Man”, instead of Mother of God – i.e. Theotokos, were used to attack the humanity of Christ. Nestorius could not accept that He who was born of Mary was the very same Son of God.
This provoked a reaction from St Cyril, who could not simply allow this slight to the Mother of God go without a response. He sent no less than twelve anathemas against Nestorius and all who followed his teaching. In one of these, he writes, “If anyone does not say that the Son of God and the son of Mary are the same Son, anathema! If anyone does not say that the one born of Mary was begotten of the Father before all ages, and is light of light, true God of true God, anathema! If anyone says that the Logos merely joined to a man but has not really become man, anathema!” St Cyril was vindicated at the Third Ecumenical Council held in Ephesus in 431, which condemned Nestorius. He served as Patriarch of Alexandria for 32 years, falling asleep in the Lord on the 9th June, 444.
Source: Lychnos June 2018 / July 2018