|Saint Cyril of Alexandria|
|The Pillar of Faith; Bishop, Confessor and Doctor of the Church|
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Oriental Orthodox Church
|Feast||January 18 and June 9 (Orthodox Churches)
June 27 (Roman Catholic Church and Lutheran Church)
February 9 (on some local calendars and among Traditional Roman Catholics)
|Attributes||Vested as a Bishop with phelonion and omophorion, and usually with his head covered in the manner of Egyptian monastics (sometimes the head covering has a polystavrion pattern), he usually is depicted holding a Gospel Book or a scroll, with his right hand raised in blessing.|
Saint Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376 - 444) was the Pope of Alexandria from 412 to 444. He came to power when the city was at its height of influence and power within the Roman Empire. Cyril wrote extensively and was a leading protagonist in the Christological controversies of the later 4th and 5th centuries. He was a central figure in the First Council of Ephesus in 431, which led to the deposition of Nestorius as Patriarch of Constantinople. Cyril is counted among the Church Fathers and the Doctors of the Church, and his reputation within the Christian world has resulted in his titles Pillar of Faith and Seal of all the Fathers, but Theodosius II, the Roman Emperor, condemned him for behaving like a proud pharaoh, and the Nestorian bishops at the Council of Ephesus declared him a heretic, labelling him as a monster, born and educated for the destruction of the church.
The Eastern Orthodox Church and Byzantine Catholic Church celebrate his feast day on June 9 and also, together with Pope Athanasius I of Alexandria, on January 18. The Roman Catholic Church did not commemorate him in the Tridentine Calendar; it added his feast only in 1882, assigning to it the date of February 9, the date on which it is still observed by those who use calendars prior to that of the 1969 revision, which assigned to it the date of June 27, considered to be the day of the saint's death. The same date has been chosen for the Lutheran calendar.
Cyril was born about 376 in the small town of Theodosios, Egypt, near modern day El-Mahalla El-Kubra. A few years after his birth, his maternal uncle Theophilus rose to the powerful position of Patriarch of Alexandria. His mother remained close to her brother and under his guidance, St. Cyril was well educated. His education showed through his knowledge, in his writings, of Christian writers of his day, including Eusebius, Origen, Didymus, and writers of the Alexandrian church. He received the formal education standard for his day: he studied grammar from age twelve to fourteen (390-392), rhetoric and humanities from fifteen to twenty (393-397) and finally theology and biblical studies (398-402).
Thus, Cyril followed his uncle in a position that had become powerful and influential, rivalling that of the prefect in a time of turmoil and frequently violent conflict between the cosmopolitan city's Pagan, Jewish, and Christian inhabitants.
He began to exert his authority by causing the churches of the Novatians to be closed and their sacred vessels to be seized.
Orestes, Praefectus augustalis of the Diocese of Egypt, steadfastly resisted Cyril's agenda of ecclesiastical encroachment onto secular prerogatives. In one occasion, Cyril sent the grammaticus Hierax to secretly discover the content of an edict that Orestes was to promulgate on the mimes shows, which attracted great crowds. When the Jews, with whom Cyril had clashed before, discovered the presence of Hierax, they broke in a riot, complaining that Hierax's presence was aimed at provoking them. Then Orestes had Hierax tortured in public in a theatre. This order had two aims: the first was to sedate the riot, the other to mark Orestes' authority on Cyril.
According to Christian sources, the Jews of Alexandria schemed against the Christians and killed many of them; Cyril reacted and expelled all of the Jews, or only the murderers, from Alexandria, actually exerting a power that belonged to the civil officer, Orestes. Orestes was powerless, but nonetheless rejected Cyril's gesture of offering him a Bible, which would mean that the religious authority of Cyril would require Orestes' acquiescence about the bishop's policy.
This refusal almost costed Orestes his life. Nitrian monks come from the desert and rose a riot against Orestes among the population of Alexandria. These monks' violence had been already used, 15 years before, by Theophilus (Cyril's uncle) against the "Tall Brothers"; furthermore, it is said that Cyril had had spent five years among them in ascetic training. The monks assaulted Orestes and accused him of being a pagan. Orestes rejected the accusations, showing that he had been baptised by the Archbishop of Constantinople. However, the monks were not satisfied, and one of them, Ammonius, throw a stone and hit Orestes on his head, and so much blood flowed out that he was covered in it. Orestes' guard, fearing to be stoned by the monks, fled leaving Orestes alone. The people of Alexandria, however, came in his help, captured Ammonius and put the monks to flight. Orestes was cured and put Ammonius under torture in a public place. The prefect then wrote to the emperor Theodosius II, telling him the events. Also Cyril wrote to the Emperor, telling his version of the facts. The bishop also seized the body of Ammonius and put it in a church, conferring upon him the title of Thaumasius and putting his name in the list of the martyrs. However, the Christian population of Alexandria knew that Ammonius had been killed for his assault and not for his faith, and Cyril was obliged to pass the events under silence.
Prefect Orestes enjoyed the political backing of Hypatia, a pagan philosopher and scientist who had considerable moral authority in the city of Alexandria, and who had extensive influence. Indeed many students from wealthy and influential families came to Alexandria purposefully to study privately with Hypatia, and many of these later attained high posts in government and the Church. Several Christians thought that Hypatia's influence had caused Orestes to reject all reconciliatory offerings by Cyril. Modern historians think that Orestes had cultivated his relationship with Hypathia to strengthen a bond with the Pagan community of Alexandria, as he had done with the Jewish one, to handle better the difficult political life of the Egyptian capital. A Christian mob possibly led by Nitrian monks, however, grabbed Hypatia out of her chariot and brutally murdered her, hacking her body apart and burning the pieces outside the city walls.
Modern studies represent Hypatia's death as the result of a struggle between two Christian factions, the moderate Orestes, supported by Hypatia, and the more rigid Cyril. According to lexicographer William Smith, "She was accused of too much familiarity with Orestes, prefect of Alexandria, and the charge spread among the clergy, who took up the notion that she interrupted the friendship of Orestes with their archbishop, Cyril."
Another major conflict was between the Alexandrian and Antiochian schools of ecclesiastical reflection, piety, and discourse. This long running conflict widened with the third canon of the First Council of Constantinople which granted the see of Constantinople primacy over the older sees of Alexandria and Antioch. Thus, the struggle between the sees of Alexandria and Antioch now included Constantinople. The conflict came to a head in 428 after Nestorius, who originated in Antioch, was made Archbishop of Constantinople.
Cyril gained an opportunity to restore Alexandria's pre-eminence over both Antioch and Constantinople when an Antiochine priest who was in Constantinople at Nestorius' behest began to preach against calling Mary the "Mother of God". As the term "Mother of God" had long been attached to Mary, the laity in Constantinople complained against the priest. Rather than repudiating the priest, Nestorius intervened on his behalf. Nestorius argued that Mary was neither a "Mother of Man" nor "Mother of God" as these referred to Christ's two natures. Rather, Mary was the "Mother of Christ" which referred the unified person of Christ. This however only stoked the fires. Eusebius of Dorylaeum went so far as to accuse Nestorius of adoptionism. By this time, news of the controversy in the capital had reached Alexandria. At Easter 429 A.D., Cyril wrote a letter to the Egyptian monks warning them of Nestorius' views. A copy of this letter reached Constantinople where Nestorius preached a sermon against it. This began a series of letters between Cyril and Nestorius which gradually became more strident in tone. In retrospect it is obvious that both Patriarchs were as much interested in ecclesiastical politics as in the theology of the matter. Finally, Emperor Theodosius II convoked a council in Ephesus to solve the dispute. Ephesus was friendly to Cyril, Cyril and his supporters started and concluded the Council of Ephesus (in 431) before Nestorius and his supporters had even got there; predictably, the Council ordered the deposition and exile of Nestorius.
However, when John of Antioch and the other pro-Nestorius bishops finally reached Ephesus, they assembled their own Council, condemned Cyril for heresy, deposed him from his see, and labelled him as a monster, born and educated for the destruction of the church. Theodosius, by now old enough to hold power by himself, annulled the verdict of the Council and arrested Cyril, but Cyril eventually escaped. Having fled to Egypt, Cyril bribed Theodosius' courtiers, and sent a mob lead by Dalmatius, a hermit, to besiege Theodosius' palace, and shout abuse; the Emperor eventually gave in, sending Nestorius into minor exile (Upper Egypt). The events created a major schism, forming the Church of the East.
Cyril regarded the embodiment of God in the person of Jesus Christ to be so mystically powerful that it spread out from the body of the God-man into the rest of the race, to reconstitute human nature into a graced and deified condition of the saints, one that promised immortality and transfiguration to believers. Nestorius, on the other hand, saw the incarnation as primarily a moral and ethical example to the faithful, to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Cyril's constant stress was on the simple idea that it was God who walked the streets of Nazareth (hence Mary was Theotokos (Mother of God)), and God who had appeared in a transfigured humanity. Nestorius spoke of the distinct 'Jesus the man' and 'the divine Logos' in ways that Cyril thought were too dichotomous, widening the ontological gap between man and God in a way that would annihilate the person of Christ.
The main issue that prompted this dispute between Cyril and Nestorius was the question which arose at the Council of Constantinople: What exactly was the being to which Mary gave birth? Cyril posited that the composition of the Trinity consisted of one divine essence (ousia) in three distinct realities (hypostases.) These distinct realities were the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Before the Son became flesh in Mary's womb, Cyril asserted that there existed two natures of the Son—one divine nature and one human nature. Then, when the Son became flesh and entered into the world, these two divine and human natures both remained but became united in the person of Jesus. This resulted in the slogan "One Nature united out of two" being used to encapsulate the theological position of this Alexandrian bishop.
According to Cyril's theology, there were two states for the Son: the state that existed prior to the Son (or Word/Logos) becoming enfleshed in the person of Jesus and the state that actually became enfleshed. Thus, only the Logos incarnate suffered and died on the Cross and therefore the Son was able to suffer without suffering. Cyril's concern was that there needed to be continuity of the divine subject between the Logos and the incarnate Word—and so in Jesus Christ the divine Logos was really present in the flesh and in the world.
Cyril of Alexandria became noted in Church history, because of his spirited fight for the title “Theotokos” during the Council of Ephesus (431). His writings include the homily given in Ephesus and several other sermons.. Some of his alleged homilies are in dispute as to his authorship. In several writings, Cyril focuses on the love of Jesus to his mother. On the Cross, he overcomes his pain and thinks of his mother. At the wedding in Cana, he bows to her wishes. The overwhelming merit of Cyril of Alexandria is the cementation of the centre of dogmatic mariology for all times. Cyril is credited with creating a basis for all other mariological developments through his teaching of the blessed Virgin Mary, as the Mother of God.
Cyril was a scholarly archbishop and a prolific writer. In the early years of his active life in the Church he wrote several exegeses. Among these were: Commentaries on the Old Testament, Thesaurus, Discourse Against Arians, Commentary on St. John's Gospel, and Dialogues on the Trinity. In 429 as the Christological controversies increased, his output of writings was that which his opponents could not match. His writings and his theology have remained central to tradition of the Fathers and to all Orthodox to this day.
Cyril plays a controversial role in the Arabic novel Azazeel (also transliterated as Azazil) by the Egyptian scholar Youssef Ziedan. The novel, which won the 2009 International Prize for Arabic Fiction and will be published in English under the title Beelzebub, is set in 5th-century Egypt and Syria and deals with the early history of Christianity. The book has generated controversy for depicting religious fanaticism and mob violence among early Christians in Roman Egypt. The narrator, Hypa, witnesses the lynching of Hypatia and finds himself involved in the schism of 431, when Cyril deposed Nestorius. Cyril is portrayed as a fanatic who kills Jews and others who have not converted to Christianity from the traditional religions of antiquity These exaggerated claims have angered many Christians. Many believe Cyril was not as anti-Jewish as the book claims. This has led to numerous book burnings.
Cyril has also been portrayed in a highly charged way in Ki Longfellow's Flow Down Like Silver, Hypatia of Alexandria . Though Longfellow does not accuse Cyril of ordering the death of Hypatia, her work does not shy away from speculating on his part in the murder.
|Pope of Alexandria
Doctor of the Church. St. Cyril has his feast in the Western Church on the 28th of January; in the Greek Menaea it is found on the 9th of June, and (together with St. Athanasius) on the 18th of January.
He seems to have been of an Alexandrian family and was the son of the brother of Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria; if he is the Cyril addressed by Isidore of Pelusium in Ep. xxv of Bk. I, he was for a time a monk. He accompanied Theophilus to Constantinople when that bishop held the "Synod of the Oak" in 402 and deposed St. John Chrysostom. Theophilus died 15 Oct., 412, and on the 18th Cyril was consecrated his uncle's successor, but only after a riot between his supporters and those of his rival Timotheus. Socrates complains bitterly that one of his first acts was to plunder and shut the churches of the Novatians. He also drove out of Alexandria the Jews, who had formed a flourishing community there since Alexander the Great. But they had caused tumults and had massacred the Christians, to defend whom Cyril himself assembled a mob. This may have been the only possible defence, since the Prefect of Egypt, Orestes, who was very angry at the expulsion of the Jews was also jealous of the power of Cyril, which certainly rivaled his own. Five hundred monks came down from Nitria to defend the patriarch. In a disturbance which arose, Orestes was wounded in the head by a stone thrown by a monk named Ammonius. The prefect had Ammonius tortured to death, and the young and fiery patriarch honoured his remains for a time as those of a martyr. The Alexandians were always riotous as we learn from Socrates (VII, vii) and from St. Cyril himself (Hom. for Easter, 419). In one of these riots, in 422, the prefect Callistus was killed, and in another was committed the murder of a female philosopher Hypatia, a highly-respected teacher of neo-Platoism, of advanced age and (it is said) many virtues. She was a friend of Orestes, and many believed that she prevented a reconciliation between the prefect and patriarch. A mob led by a lector, named Peter, dragged her to a church and tore her flesh with potsherds till she died. This brought great disgrace, says Socrates, on the Church of Alexandria and on its bishop; but a lector at Alexandria was not a cleric (Scr., V, xxii), and Socrates does not suggest that Cyril himself was to blame. Damascius, indeed, accuses him, but he is a late authority and a hater of Christians.
Theophilus, the persecutor of Chrysostom, had not the privilege of communion with Rome from that saint's death, in 406, until his own. For some years Cyril also refused to insert the name of St. Chrysostom in the diptychs of his Church, in spite of the requests of Chrysostom's supplanter, Atticus. Later he seems to have yielded to the representations of his spiritual father, Isisdore of Pelusium (Isid., Ep. I, 370). Yet even after the Council of Ephesus that saint still found something to rebuke in him on this matter (Ep. I, 310). But at last Cyril seems to have long since been trusted by Rome.
It was in the winter of 427-28 that the Antiochene Nestorius became Patriarch of Constantinople. His heretical teaching soon became known to Cyril. Against him Cyril taught the use of the term Theotokus in his Paschal letter for 429 and in a letter to the monks of Egypt. A correspondence with Nestorius followed, in a more moderate tone than might have been expected. Nestorius sent his sermons to Pope Celestine, but he received no reply, for the latter wrote to St. Cyril for further information. Rome had taken the side of St. John Chrysostom against Theophilus, but had neither censured the orthodoxy of the latter, nor consented to the patriarchal powers exercised by the bishops of Constantinople. To St. Celestine Cyril was not only the first prelate of the East, he was also the inheritor of the traditions of Athanasius and Peter. The pope's confidence was not misplaced. Cyril had learnt prudence. Peter had attempted unsuccessfully to appoint a Bishop of Constantinople; Theophilus had deposed another. Cyril, though in this case Alexandria was in the right, does not act in his own name, but denounces Nestorius to St. Celestine, since ancient custom, he says, persuaded him to bring the matter before the pope. He relates all that had occurred, and begs Celestine to decree what he sees fit (typosai to dokoun--a phrase which Dr. Bright chooses to weaken into "formulate his opinion"), and communicate it also to the Bishops of Macedonia and of the East (i.e. the Antiochene Patriarchate).
The pope's reply was of astonishing severity. He had already commissioned Cassian to write his well known treatise on the Incarnation. He now summoned a council (such Roman councils had somewhat the office of the modern Roman Congregations), and dispatched a letter to Alexandria with enclosures to Constantinople, Philippi, Jerusalem, and Antioch. Cyril is to take to himself the authority of the Roman See and to admonish Nestorius that unless he recants within ten days from the receipt of this ultimatum, he is separated from "our body" (the popes of the day had the habit of speaking of the other churches as the members, of which they are the head; the body is, of course the Catholic Church). If Nestorius does not submit, Cyril is to "provide for" the Church of Constantinople. Such a sentence of excommunication and deposition is not to be confounded with the mere withdrawal of actual communion by the popes from Cyril himself at an earlier date, from Theophilus, or, in Antioch, from Flavian or Meletius. It was the decree Cyril has asked for. As Cyril had twice written to Nestorius, his citation in the name of the pope is to be counted as a third warning, after which no grace is to be given.
St. Cyril summoned a council of his suffragans, and composed a letter which were appended twelve propositions for Nestorius to anathematize. The epistle was not conciliatory, and Nestorius may well have been taken aback. The twelve propositions did not emanate from Rome, and were not equally clear; one or two of them were later among the authorities invoked by the Monophysite heretics in their own favour. Cyril was the head of the rival theological school to that of Antioch, where Nestorius had studied, and was the hereditary rival of the Constantinopolitan would-be patriarch. Cyril wrote also to John, Patriarch of Antioch, informing him of the facts, and insinuating that if John should support his old friend Nestorius, he would find himself isolated over against Rome, Macedonia, and Egypt. John took the hint and urged Nestorius to yield. Meanwhile, in Constantinople itself large numbers of the people held aloof from Nestorius, and the Emperor Theodosius II had been persuaded to summon a general council to meet at Ephesus. The imperial letters were dispatched 19 November, whereas the bishops sent by Cyril arrived at Constantinople only on 7 December. Nestorius, somewhat naturally, refused to accept the message sent by his rival, and on the 13th and 14th of December preached publicly against Cyril as a calumniator, and as having used bribes (which was probably as true as it was usual); but he declared himself willing to use the word Theotokos. These sermons he sent to John of Antioch, who preferred them to the anathematizations of Cyril. Nestorius, however, issued twelve propositions with appended anathemas. If Cyril's propositions might be might be taken to deny the two natures in Christ, those of Nestorius hardly veiled his belief in two distinct persons. Theodoret urged John yet further, and wrote a treatise against Cyril, to which the latter replied with some warmth. He also wrote an "Answer" in five books to the sermons of Nestorius.
As the fifteenth-century idea of an oecumenical council superior to the pope had yet to be invented, and there was but one precedent for such an assembly, we need not be surprised that St. Celestine welcomed the initiative of the emperor, and hoped for peace through the assembly. (See EPHESUS, COUNCIL OF.) Nestorius found the churches of Ephesus closed to him, when he arrived with the imperial commissioner, Count Candidian, and his own friend, Count Irenaeus. Cyril came with fifty of his bishops. Palestine, Crete, Asia Minor, and Greece added their quotient. But John of Antioch and his suffragans were delayed. Cyril may have believed, rightly or wrongly, that John did not wish to be present at the trial of his friend Nestorius, or that he wished to gain time for him, and he opened the council without John, on 22 June, in spite of the request of sixty-eight bishops for a delay. This was an initial error, which had disastrous results.
The legates from Rome had not arrived, so that Cyril had no answer to the letter he had written to Celestine asking "whether the holy synod should receive a man who condemned what it preached, or, because the time of delay had elapsed, whether the sentence was still in force". Cyril might have presumed that the pope, in agreeing to send legates to the council, intended Nestorius to have a complete trial, but it was more convenient to assume that the Roman ultimatum had not been suspended, and that the council was bound by it. He therefore took the place of president, not only as the highest of rank, but also as still holding the place of Celestine, though he cannot have received any fresh commission from the pope. Nestorius was summoned, in order that he might explain his neglect of Cyril's former monition in the name of the pope. He refused to receive the four bishops whom the council sent to him. Consequently nothing remained but formal procedure. For the council was bound by the canons to depose Nestorius for contumacy, as he would not appear, and by the letter of Celestine to condemn him for heresy, as he had not recanted. The correspondence between Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople was read, some testimonies where read from earlier writers show the errors of Nestorius. The second letter of Cyril to Nestorius was approved by all the bishops. The reply of Nestorius was condemned. No discussion took place. The letter of Cyril and the ten anathemaizations raised no comment. All was concluded at one sitting. The council declared that it was "of necessity impelled" by the canons and by the letter of Celestine to declare Nestorius deposed and excommunicated. The papal legates, who had been detained by bad weather, arrived on the 10th of July, and they solemnly confirmed the sentence by the authority of St. Peter, for the refusal of Nestorius to appear had made useless the permission which they brought from the pope to grant him forgiveness if he should repent. But meanwhile John of Antioch and his party had arrived on the 26th and 27th of June. They formed themselves into a rival council of forty-three bishops, and deposed Memnon, Bishop of Ephesus, and St. Cyril, accusing the latter of Apollinarianism and even of Eunomianism. Both parties now appealed to the emperor, who took the amazing decision of sending a count to treat Nestorius, Cyril, and Memnon as being all three lawfully deposed. They were kept in close custody; but eventually the emperor took the orthodox view, though he dissolved the council; Cyril was allowed to return to his diocese, and Nestorius went into retirement at Antioch. Later he was banished to the Great Oasis of Egypt.
Meanwhile Pope Celestine was dead. His successor, St. Sixtus III, confirmed the council and attempted to get John of Antioch to anathematize Nestorius. For some time the strongest opponent of Cyril was Theodoret, but eventually he approved a letter of Cyril to Acacius of Berhoea. John sent Paul, Bishop of Emesa, as his plenipotentiary to Alexandria, and he patched up reconciliation with Cyril. Though Theodoret still refused to denounce the defence of Nestorius, John did so, and Cyril declared his joy in a letter to John. Isidore of Pelusium was now afraid that the impulsive Cyril might have yielded too much (Ep. i, 334). The great patriarch composed many further treatises, dogmatic letters, and sermons. He died on the 9th or the 27th of June, 444, after an episcopate of nearly thirty-two years.
St. Cyril as a theologian
The principal fame of St. Cyril rests upon his defence of Catholic doctrine against Nestorius. That heretic was undoubtedly confused and uncertain. He wished, against Apollinarius, to teach that Christ was a perfect man, and he took the denial of a human personality in Our Lord to imply an Apollinarian incompleteness in His Human Nature. The union of the human and the Divine natures was therefore to Nestorius an unspeakably close junction, but not a union in one hypostasis. St. Cyril taught the personal, or hypostatic, union in the plainest terms; and when his writings are surveyed as a whole, it becomes certain that he always held the true view, that the one Christ has two perfect and distinct natures, Divine and human. But he would not admit two physeis in Christ, because he took physis to imply not merely a nature but a subsistent (i.e. personal) nature. His opponents misrepresented him as teaching that the Divine person suffered, in His human nature; and he was constantly accused of Apollinarianism. On the other hand, after his death Monophysitism was founded upon a misinterpretation of his teaching. Especially unfortunate was the formula "one nature incarnate of God the Word" (mia physis tou Theou Logou sesarkomene), which he took from a treatise on the Incarnation which he believed to be by his great predecessor St. Athanasius. By this phrase he intended simply to emphasize against Nestorius the unity of Christ's Person; but the words in fact expressed equally the single Nature taught by Eutyches and by his own successor Diascurus. He brings out admirably the necessity of the full doctrine of the humanity to God, to explain the scheme of the redemption of man. He argues that the flesh of Christ is truly the flesh of God, in that it is life-giving in the Holy Eucharist. In the richness and depth of his philosophical and devotional treatment of the Incarnation we recognize the disciple of Athanasius. But the precision of his language, and perhaps of his thought also, is very far behind that which St. Leo developed a few years after Cyril's death.
Cyril was a man of great courage and force of character. We can often discern that his natural vehemence was repressed and schooled, and he listened with humility to the severe admonitions of his master and advisor, St. Isidore. As a theologian, he is one of the great writers and thinkers of early times. Yet the troubles that arose out of the Council of Ephesus were due to his impulsive action; more patience and diplomacy might possibly even have prevented the vast Nestorian sect from arising at all. In spite of his own firm grasp of the truth, the whole of his patriarch fell away, a few years after his time, into a heresy based on his writings, and could never be regained by the Catholic Faith. But he has always been greatly venerated in the Church. His letters, especially the second letter to Nestorius, were not only approved by the Council of Ephesus, but by many subsequent councils, and have frequently been appealed to as tests of orthodoxy. In the East he was always honoured as one of the greatest of the Doctors. His Mass and Office as a Doctor of the Church were approved by Leo XIII in 1883.
The exegetical works of St. Cyril are very numerous. The seventeen books "On Adoration in Spirit and in Truth" are an exposition of the typical and spiritual nature of the Old Law. The Glaphyra or "brilliant", Commentaries on Pentateuch are of the same nature. Long explanations of Isaias and of the minor Prophets give a mystical interpretation after the Alexandrian manner. Only fragments are extant of other works on the Old Testament, as well as of expositions of Matthew, Luke, and some of the Epistles, but of that of St. Luke much is preserved in a Syriac version. Of St. Cyril's sermons and letters the most interesting are those which concern the Nestorian controversy. Of a great apologetic work in the twenty books against Julian the Apostate ten books remain. Among his theological treatises we have two large works and one small one on the Holy Trinity, and a number of treatises and tracts belonging to the Nestorian controversy.
The first collected edition of St. Cyril's works was by J. Aubert, 7 vols., Paris, 1638; several earlier editions of some portions in Latin only are enumerated by Fabricius. Cardinal Mai added more material in the second and third volumes of his "Bibliotheca nova Patrum", II-III, 1852; this is incorporated, together with much matter from the Catenae published by Ghislerius (1633), Corderius, Possinus, and Cranor (1838), in Migne's reprint of Aubert's edition (P.G. LXVIII-LXVII, Paris, 1864). Better editions of single works include P. E. Pusey, "Cyrilli Alex. Epistolae tres oecumenicae, libri V c. Nestorium, XII capitum explanatio, XII capitum defensio utraque scholia de Incarnatione Unigeniti" (Oxford, 1875); "De recta fide ad principissas de recta fide ad Augustas, quad unus Christus, dialogus apologeticus ad Imp." (Oxford, 1877); "Cyrilli Alex. in XII Prophetas" (Oxford, 1868, 2 vols.); "In divi Joannis Evangelium" (Oxford, 1872, 3 vols., including the fragments on the Epistles). "Three Epistles, with revised text and English translation" (Oxford, 1872); translations in the Oxford "Library of the Fathers"; "Commentary on St. John", I (1874), II (1885); Five tomes against Nestorius" (1881); R. Payne Smith, "S. Cyrilli Alex. Comm. in Lucae evang. quae supersunt Syriace e MSS. apud Mus. Brit." (Oxford, 1858); the same translated into English (Oxford, 1859, 2 vols.); W. Wright, "Fragments of the Homilies of Cyril of Alex. on St. Luke, edited from a Nitrian MS." (London, 1874); J. H. Bernard, "On Some Fragments of an Uncial MS. of St. Cyril of Alex. Written on Papyrus" (Trans. of R. Irish Acad., XXIX, 18, Dublin, 1892); "Cyrilli Alex. librorum c. Julianum fragmenta syriaca:, ed. E. Nestle etc. in "Scriptorum grecorum, qui Christianam impugnaverunt religionem", fasc. III (Leipzig, 1880). Fragments of the "Liber Thesaurorum" in Pitra, "Analecta sacra et class.", I (Paris, 1888).