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Lives of the Saints:

How They Changed the World

Saint Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376–444)

Saint Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376–444)

Feast day: June 27

Saint Cyril of Alexandria was born around 376 in Egypt. His uncle was the powerful Patriarch of Alexandria. Cyril received an unparalleled education in grammar, rhetoric, and theology. After his uncle’s death, Cyril became the Patriarch, or Pope, of Alexandria, despite protests from some Christian groups. Cyril is known for his tireless defense of Christian orthodoxy, as well as the morally expedient and arguably unjustifiable means by which he asserted Christian orthodoxy. He plundered and shut down churches adhering to the so-called Novatian heresy, illegally stole Jewish property and fomented anti-Semitic sentiments, and expelled the Jewish population from Alexandria as a reprisal for their attacks on Christians. Some historians believe Cyril to be intricately connected to various violent plots and Christian uprisings in Alexandria. He is admired for his defense of Jesus’ divinity and humanity in the face of the heresy of Nestorius, which taught that Jesus was solely divine and not human. At the Council of Ephesus, Cyril represented the Pope and fiercely argued against the Nestorian heresy. Cyril was then arrested and imprisoned for three months before returning to Alexandria. (Image by Solitary Copt at English Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons)