(c. 376 – 444)
Ordinary Time: June 27th
St. Cyril is one of the great Greek fathers of the Church. He was
chosen by divine Providence to be the shield and champion of the
Church against Nestorius, who denied the unity of person in Christ.
If this heresy had succeeded, Mary would not be called the Mother of
Excepting Sts. Athanasius and Augustine, his equal as a defender of
orthodoxy can hardly be found in the Church's history. His greatest
achievement was the successful direction of the ecumenical council
at Ephesus (431), of which he was the soul (Pope Celestine had
appointed him papal legate). In this council, two important dogmas
were defined – that there is but one person in Christ, and that Mary
(in the literal sense of the word) can be called the Mother of God
(Theotokos). His successful defense of the latter doctrine is his
greatest title to honor.
His writings show such depth and clarity that the Greeks called him
the "seal of the fathers." He died in 444 A.D., after having been
bishop for thirty-two years.
In Rome, the basilica of St. Mary Major stands as a most venerable
monument to the honor paid Mary at the Council of Ephesus. On the
arch leading into the sanctuary important incidents in the lives of
Jesus and Mary are depicted in mosaic.
Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch