), ST., bishop of JERUSALEM, was probably born at Jerusalem, A. D. 315.
He was ordained deacon by Macarius in the church of his native place, about 334 or 335; and, by Maximus, who succeeded Macarius, he was elected presbyter, 345. When Maximus died, he was chosen to fill the episcopal chair, 351, in the reign of Constantius.
It was about the commencement of his episcopate, on the 7th of May, 351, about 9 o'clock, a. m., that a great luminous cross, exceeding in brightness the splendour of the sun, appeared for several hours over mount Golgotha, and extended as far as the mount of Olives. His letter to Constantius, which is preserved, gives a full account of this phenomenon. Soon after, he became involved in disputes with Acacius, the Arian bishop of Caesareia, which embittered the greater part of his subsequent life.
The controversy between them arose about the rights of their respective sees; but mutual recriminations concerning the faith soon followed. Acacius accused Cyril of affirming, that the Son was like the Father in regard to essence, or that he was consubstantial
with Him. During two successive years Cyril was summoned by his opponent to appear before a proper tribunal, but did not obey the call. Exasperated no doubt by this steadfast disregard of his authority, the Caesarean bishop hastily got together a council, which deposed Cyril in 358.
The charge against him was, that he had exposed to sale the treasures of the church, and in a time of famine applied the proceeds to the use of the poor. Among these treasures was specified a sacred garment woven with golden threads and presented by Constantine the Great, which afterwards came into the possession of an actress.
The excommunicated prelate, however, appealed to a larger council; and Constantius himself assented to the justice of the appeal.
After his deposition, he went to Antioch, in which city he found the church without a pastor, and thence to Tarsus.
There he lived on terms of intimacy with Sylvanus the bishop, and frequently preached in his church to the people, who were delighted with his discourses.
The larger council to which he appealed was held at Seleuceia, consisting of more than 160 bishops.
Before it Acacius was summoned by Cyril to appear, but he refused.
The latter was restored by the council.
But his persevering adversary inflamed the mind of the emperor against him, and in conformity with the wish of Acacius a synod was summoned at Constantinople; Cyril was again deposed and sent into banishment in 360.
At this council former charges were raked up against him, and new ones added by Acacius. On the death of Constantius, Cyril was recalled from exile, and restored a second time to his episcopate in 362.
In the year 363, when attempts were made by Julian to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem, he is said to have predicted, from a comparison of the prophecies in Daniel and the New Testament, that the enterprise would be defeated. Under Jovian and in the beginning of Valens's reign, he lived in the quiet possession of his office. On the death of Acacius, he appointed Philumenus over the church at Caesareia; but the Eutychians deposed the newly chosen bishop, and substituted one Cyril in his place.
The bishop of Jerusalem, however, deposed him who had been elevated by the Eutychian party, and set over the Caesarean church Gelasius, his sister's son. Soon after, by order of Valens, Cyril was banished a third time from Jerusalem, in 367. On the emperor's death, he returned to his native place, and reassumed the functions of his office the third time, 378. Under Theodosius he continued in the undisturbed possession of the episcopal chair till his death.
He seems, however, to have incurred the displeasure of his own church, rent and disfigured as it was with schisms, heresies, and moral corruption. Perplexed and uneasy, he asked assistance from the council of Antioch. (379.) Accordingly, Gregory of Nyssa was deputed by the council to go to Jerusalem and to pacify the church in that place.
But the peace-maker departed without accomplishing the object of his mission. Cyril was present at the second general council held at Constantinople in 381, in which he was honoured with a high eulogium.
It is supposed that he attended the council of Constantinople in 383. His death took place in 386.
His works consist of eighteen lectures to catechumens (Κατηχήσεις φωτιζομένων
), and five to the newly-baptized (μυσταγωψικαὶ κατηχήσεις πρὸς τοὺς νεοφωτίστους
These were delivered about the year 347, in his youth, as Jerome says, and when he was still presbyter.
The first eighteen are chiefly doctrinal, consisting of an exposition of the articles in the creed of the church; while the last five respect the rights of baptism, chrism, and the Lord's supper.
These treatises have very great value in the eyes of the theologian, inasmuch as they present a more complete system of theology and a more minute description of the rites of the church at that early period than are to be found in any other writer of the same age.
In their style and language there is nothing florid or oratorical; the composition is plain, didactic, and inelegant.
The authenticity of these catecheses has been questioned by some, especially by Oudinus (de Script. Eccl. Ant.
vol. i. p. 459, et seq.), yet no good ground has been adduced for entertaining such doubts.
It has been thought, with reason, that Cyril was once a Semi-Arian, and that after the Nicene creed had been generally adopted, he approved of and embraced its dogmas. Epiphanius speaks in express terms of his Semi-Arianism, and even Touttee acknowledges the fact. His coldness towards the Nicenians and his intinmacy with the Eusebians, give colour to this opinion.
But he was by no means disposed to carry out doctrines beyond the written word, or to wander into the regions of speculation. His published writings attest his orthodoxy and firm belief in the Nicene creed.
Among his works are also preserved a homily on the case of the paralytic man (John 5.1-16), and a letter to the emperor Constantius, giving an account of the luminous cross which appeared at Jerusalem, 351.
His writings were published in Latin at Paris, 1589
, and his Catecheses in Greek at the same place, 1564, 8vo.
; in Greek and Latin at Cologne, 1564. Prevotius edited them all in Greek and Latin at Paris in 1608, 4to.
; and afterwards Dion Petavius at Paris, 1622, fol.
They were reprinted from Prevotius's edition, at Paris in 1631, fol.
, along with the works of Synesius of Cyrene.
A much better edition than any of the preceding was that of Thomas Milles, in Greek and Latin, Oxford, 1703, fol.
The best is that of the Benedictine monk, A. A. Touttee, Paris, 1720, fol.
The preface contains a very elaborate dissertation on the life and writings of Cyril.
See Touttee's preface;
Cave's Historia Literaria,
vol. i. pp. 211, 212, Oxford, 1740; Schröck, Kirchengeschichte,
vol. xii. p. 343, &c.; Theodoret, Histor. Ecclesiast.
libb. ii. and v.; Tillemont, Eccles. Mem.
vol. viii.; Guerike, Handbuch der Kirchengeschichte,
vol. i. pp. 344, 345, note 3, fünfte Auflage;
vol. i. p. 241, note 16.