June 27: St. Cyril of Alexandria

The Church today honors St. Cyril of Alexandria. He was an Egyptian bishop and theologian, best known for his role in the Council of Ephesus, where the Church confirmed that Christ is both God and man in one person.  St. Cyril was most likely born in Alexandria, the metropolis of ancient Egypt, between 370 and 380.

In 428, a monk named Nestorius, who had become the Patriarch of Constantinople, publicly declared that he was not willing to use the term “Mother of God” (in Greek, “Theotokos”) to describe the Virgin Mary. Instead, he insisted on the term “Mother of Christ” (“Christotokos”). The heretical Nestorian view essentially meant that Christ was split into two united, but distinct persons: one fully human and born of Mary, the other fully divine and not subject to birth or death.

St. Cyril responded first through a series of letters to Nestorius (which are still in existence and studied today), then through an appeal to the Pope, and finally through the summoning of an Ecumenical Council in 431. During the Council, which ran from June 22 to July 31 of the year 431, St. Cyril brilliantly defended the orthodox belief in Christ as a single, eternally divine person who also became incarnate as a man. The Council condemned Nestorius, who was deposed as Patriarch and later suffered exile. St. Cyril died on June 27, 444, having been a bishop for nearly 32 years.

Let us pray. “Dear Lord, we thank you for giving us your servant, St. Cyril of Alexandria, as an example of holiness. Help us to imitate the love he showed in choosing to devote his life to you as a priest and bishop. May he bring our petitions before you and may he intercede powerfully for us. May he help us persevere in the truth and may his example inspire us to greater devotion to Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, too. Through Christ your Son who lives and reigns with you for ever and ever. Amen.”

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