Online Encyclopedia

CYRIL (c. 315–386)

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 706 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CYRIL (c. 315–386), bishop of Jerusalem, where he was probably born, was ordained a presbyter in 345, and had the instruction of the catechumens entrusted to him. In 350 he was elevated to the see of Jerusalem, and became deeply involved in the dogmatic controversies of his time. His metropolitan, Acacius of Caesarea, inclined to Arianism, while Cyril strongly espoused the Nicene creed and was, in consequence, deposed for a time. On the death of the emperor Constantine he was restored; but on the accession of Valens, an Arian emperor, he had once more to resign his post till the accession of Theodosius permitted him to return finally in peace in 379. He attended the second oecumenical council held at Constantinople in 381, where he was received with grateful acclamations for his sufferings in defence of orthodoxy. Cyril was even more conspicuous as a pastor than as a controversialist, and this is seen in his one important work—his twenty-three addresses to catechumens delivered in A.D. 348. The first eighteen of these were meant for candidates for baptism; they deal with general topics like repentance and faith, and then expound in detail the baptismal creed of the Jerusalem church. The remaining five addresses were spoken to the newly-baptized in Easter week and explain the mysteries and ritual of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist. These lectures are said to be " the first example of a popular compend of religion," and are particularly interesting for the insight which they give us both into the creed-forms of the early church and the various ceremonies of initiation constituting baptism in the 4th century. The evidence which Cyril supplies as to the 12 Jerusalem use is supplemented by the S. Silviae peregrinatio, dating from about a generation later. Other tracts and homilies have been ascribed to Cyril of Jerusalem, but they are of doubtful genuineness.
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