Saint Cyril of Jerusalem
When They Lived:
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, also known as Cyril of Jerusalem, lived during the late 4th century. He was born around the year 313 and passed away in 386.
Where They Lived:
Cyril of Jerusalem was a prominent theologian and bishop in the city of Jerusalem. He spent most of his life in the Holy Land, which held immense significance in early Christianity.
Notable World Events During Their Life:
- Council of Nicaea (325 AD): This significant ecumenical council was convened by Emperor Constantine the Great, aimed at addressing theological disputes within Christianity. It led to the formulation of the Nicene Creed, which remains a fundamental statement of Christian faith.
- Conversion of Constantine (312 AD): The Roman Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity was a pivotal moment in the history of the Roman Empire. It not only led to the toleration of Christianity but also profoundly shaped its future.
- Roman Empire Divided (395 AD): The death of Theodosius the Great marked the final division of the Roman Empire into the Eastern and Western Roman Empires, having significant political and cultural consequences.
- Paganism Decline: Cyril lived during a period of transition when Christianity was gaining prominence, and paganism was gradually declining in the Roman Empire, leading to the eventual establishment of Christianity as the state religion.
- Early Christian Schisms: The 4th century witnessed various theological controversies and schisms within Christianity, including the Arian controversy, which Cyril addressed in his teachings.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem is known as the patron saint of a few significant aspects:
- Catechists and Teachers: Cyril’s notable contributions include his catechetical lectures, which became essential teachings for new converts to Christianity. He’s revered as a patron for catechists and teachers.
- Theologians: Cyril’s profound theological insights, especially in his defense of the divinity of Jesus Christ, make him a patron saint for theologians and scholars in the Christian tradition.
- Holy Land: Cyril’s strong connection to Jerusalem and his significant role in preserving the Christian identity in the Holy Land have made him a symbol of the region’s Christian heritage, making him a patron saint for the Holy Land.
- Unity in the Church: Cyril worked towards unity within the early Christian Church, and his efforts to resolve theological disputes make him a patron for Christian unity.
Not much is known about Saint Cyril’s early life. The proper documentation of his life and works began with his first notable experience with religion.
Saint Cyril was said to have been born around 313 A.D. Given the lack of a means of confirmation, this date might have been chosen as an assumption.
His place of birth was said to have been somewhere around Caesarea Maritima, Syria, Palaestina, or what is now called the blessed country of Israel.
Some accounts claim that Saint Cyril was born around the city of Jerusalem.
Saint Cyril was thought to have been a devout young man growing up. Some biographers believe that he must have been educated in the writings of theologians and Philosophers.
Saint Cyril was a Church layman until he was ordained as a deacon by Bishop Macarius circa 335. This placed him at about 22 years old.
He was dedicated to the church, and his piety and fiery passion caused him to be appointed a priest in 343 by Bishop Maximus.
Some documents accuse Saint Cyril of being a supporter of the Arian heresy at this time.
This was partly due to the supposed Alliance between Cyril and Acacius of Caesarea. Acacius and the rest of the Arian bishops had promised Cyril authority over the church if he dissociated himself from Maximus.
Dedication and Devotion
When he wasn’t studying liturgies, Saint Cyril spent his time praying and preaching.
It was at this time that a dispute arose between Acacius and Saint Cyril. It is widely believed that Acacius was envious of the respect that Saint Cyril received and despised him for it.
Saint Cyril was accused of selling Church properties. In truth,Jerusalem had been gripped by such a deadly famine that people were starving to death. Some historians have recorded that Saint Cyrilhad sold Church adornments to cater for his people.
Saint Cyril refused to go to the hearings he was invited to and fled his office. In his absence in 357, he was impeached and Acacius was elected. This led to a string of complicated political sagas.
Saint Cyril hid with Bishop Silanus of Seleucia. Two years later, Acacius was impeached and Cyril was replaced. In 360, Emperor Constantine once again impeached and exiled Saint Cyril.
When Julian became Emperor in 361, he allowed the return of Saint Cyril.
In 367, Saint Cyril was again exiled on the order of the Arian Emperor Valentin. After Valens died in 367, Saint Cyril returned home.
Although Saint Cyril lived in a time with challenging political climates, he never stopped preaching the gospel.
Saint Cyril might have been a part of the Arian heresy, but he was also a believer in the Nicene Orthodox. He expressed this in some of his theological writings.
Saint Cyril was not only a reader but also a writer. Some of his writings managed to survive until recent years.
It is also worth knowing that Saint Cyrill practiced forgiveness because he believed the gospel taught people to. Although exiled from his church and land many times, he never held a grudge against his antagonists.
An example of the famous work of the saints includes the twenty-three catechetical lectures, a book of lectures for the layman.
Death and Canonization
Saint Cyril died in Jerusalem at the supposed age of 73 in 386 A.D.
He is respected by the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Anglican Communion, and the Lutheran Church.
In 1883, Saint Cyril was venerated as a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII. He was canonized Pre-Congregation and is celebrated on the 18th of March.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Cyril of Jerusalem
- Did you know that Saint Cyril is mostly called St. Cyril of
Jerusalem to avoid confusion with St. Cyril of Alexandria?
- Did you know that Saint Cyril had a nephew called Gelasius who
became a Saint?
- Did you know that Saint Cyril’s catechetical lectures were said to
have been jotted down by a member of the brethren?
- Did you know that Saint Cyril appointed his nephew as his successor?
- Did you know that Saint Cyril is said to have caused Jerusalem to be
a favorite pilgrimage place?
Prayer to St. Cyril of Jerusalem
Father, through Cyril of Jerusalem, you led your Church to a deeper understanding of the mysteries of salvation. Let his prayers help us to know your Son better and to have eternal life in all its fullness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever Amen.