Saint Cyril of Jerusalem

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem

St. Cyril is revered for both his vast knowledge of the Bible and his forbearance in the face of misinterpretation and hostility. In addition to celebrating him as a saint on March 18, Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians also honor him on May 7, which is the date of a purportedly miraculous apparition that took place shortly after he was consecrated as a bishop.

The knowledge that survives about Cyril comes from the writings of his younger contemporaries, such as Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the historians of the fifth century, Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret.

Most likely, Cyril was born in Jerusalem in 315, not long after Christianity was made lawful throughout the Roman Empire.

While many of the persecutions that had endangered the Church for two centuries were stopped by that legalization, it also indirectly sparked a series of internal disputes about the authority of bishops and theology that Cyril would eventually become embroiled in.

Cyril was well-versed in both the Bible and classical Greek literature. Bishop Maximus of Jerusalem consecrated him as a priest, and in 348 he succeeded him as bishop.

Probably around the year 350, when he was still a young bishop, he gave several talks to newly ordained Catholics. Of the lectures, twenty-four have survived and are still studied.

In 351, three years after Cyril became Bishop of Jerusalem, a gigantic cross-shaped light emerged in the sky over the city for several hours, which many saw as a sign of the Church's victory against heresy. Alternatively, it could be interpreted as symbolizing the anguish the incoming bishop would experience while overseeing his flock.

Cyril, unlike many other fourth-century Eastern bishops and priests, did not let his classical education dissuade him from accepting Christ's complete humanity and divinity.

But Archbishop Acacius of Caesarea, who installed Cyril as a bishop, was a friend of the Arians, who maintained that Jesus was a creature and not God. Many of Cyril's fellow bishops wrongly accused him of heresy due to his relationship with the archbishop.

However, he also came into conflict with Archbishop Acacius, who asserted his authority over the site of the Church's founding. Over the course of twenty years, Cyril was banished from Jerusalem three times as a result of all these disagreements. First, Cyril sought sanctuary with Taraus Bishop Silvanus. In 359, he attended the Council of Seleucia, where the semi-Arian group emerged victorious. St. Cyril appears to have returned to his see after Acacius was removed from office. However, the emperor was unhappy with the course of events, and Cyril and other moderates were expelled once more in 360. They didn't return until Julian's coronation in 361. All the bishops who had been reinstated by Julian were exiled in 367 by an edict of Valens, and Cyril stayed in exile until the persecution ended in 378. St. Gregory of Nyssa traveled to Jerusalem in 380 at the suggestion of a council that had been convened at Antioch the year before. He was impressed by his pastoral efforts and discovered that the Faith was in harmony with the truth; yet, the city was morally bankrupt and a victim of political parties.

St. Cyril took part in the Second Ecumenical Council in 381, which added clauses concerning the Holy Spirit to the Nicene Creed of 325 and denounced two distinct kinds of Arianism. After he died in 387, Pope Leo XIII declared St. Cyril of Jerusalem to be a Doctor of the Church in 1883.

Other Saints of the Day
Saint Humphrey
Saint Anselm of Lucca
Saint Salvator of Horta
Saint Edward the Martyr
Saint Alexander of Jerusalem

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