Cyril of Alexandria

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA (c. 375 – 444) was born in Alexandria, towards the close of the fourth century, sand d. there in 444. After living for several years as a monk in the Nitrian Mountains, he succeeded his uncle Theophilus on the patriarchal chair of Alexandria, in 412. Like his predecessor, he distinguished himself by his violence against any deviation from what he considered orthodox faith. He expelled the Novatians from their church, and robbed their church-treasury; he led in person the mob which drove all Jews away from Alexandria in 415; and he took part, at least indirectly, in the foul murder of Hypatia. He became most notorious from his controversy with Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople. Nestorius refused to give to Mary the prædicate  this occasioned Cyril to write a treatise (429), explaining the union of the logos and the human nature in Christ, and the birth of the logos by Mary, and to issue an encyclic letter to the Egyptian monks, warning them against Nestorianism. The controversy between the two patriarchs soon became very excited; and both endeavored to gain the emperor, Theodosius II., and Pope Celestine, over on his side. Celestine finally decided against Nestorius, and commissioned Cyril to excommunicate him if he did not recant within ten days. Cyril consequently convened a synod at Alexandria, and the anathema was spoken against any one who refused to give to Mary the disputed prædicate. Nestorius answered with a counter-anathema, and both appealed to an ecumenical synod. This, the third, was called by the emperor, at Ephesus, 431. But, before John of Antioch and his bishops arrived, the synod condemned Nestorius and his doctrine of the two natures in Christ. The Antiochian bishops (from thirty to forty) then formed an independent synod, and condemned Cyril; and the emperor confirmed both condemnations, – both that of Nestorius and that of Cyril. The party of the latter, however, succeeded in gaining over the emperor; and Cyril was re-instated in his see, while Nestorius was sent back to his monastery. A reconciliation was afterwards effected between Cyril and John of Antioch; but the former continued to look with suspicion at the Antiochian school, especially at Diodorus of Tarsus, and Theodorus of Mopsuestia, whom he eonsidered the true fathers of Nestorianism. Besides his dogmatical works, Cyril wrote ten books of Apologetics against Julian, and a number of homilies. His collected works have been edited by J. AUBERT, Paris, 1638, 4 vols. fol. his Life has been written by RENANDOT: Hist. Patriarcharum Alex., Paris, 1743; KOPALLIK: Cyrillus von Alexandria, Mainz, 1881.

C. Burk, “CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA,” Philip Schaff, ed., A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, 3rd edn., Vol. 1. Toronto, New York & London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894. p.594

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