CYRIL of Jerusalem

Ascribed to Cyril of Jerusalem is a homogeneous group of Coptic homilies, written probably between the 7th and 8th c.: On the Passion, On the New Sunday, On the Resurrection, On the Holy Cross, and On the Virgin Mary two versions, an important testimony of the tradition of the assumption of Mary. These homilies have been published by H. Hyvernet, Bibliothecae Pierpont Morgan codices coptici photographice expressi, Rome 1922; E.A.W. Budge, Miscellanous Coptic Texts, London 1915; A. Campagnano, Milan 1980; Encomion di Maria Maddalena, R.G. Coquin, G. Gordon: BIFAO 90 1990 169-212. Still unpublished is the Homily for the Wednesday After Easter CPG 3598-3604, CPGS 3605-3606. There is also another homily in Arabic and in Ethiopic on the help given by Mary to Matthias when he was in prison. Finally, also under Cyril’s name is a collection of homilies in Georgian: On the Apparition of the Cross at the Time of Constantine; On the Discovery of the Nails of the Cross; On the Discovery of the Cross; On the Silence of Zechariah; On Pentecost CPG 3607.

CYRIL of Scythopolis ca. 525 after 557. Born at Scythopolis now Beit She’an, capital of Palestine II, in 543 he went to Jerusalem to be present at the dedication of the new basilica of the Theotokos built by Justinian, visit the holy places and enter a monastery. On the advice of John the Hesychast see John the Silent and after an inconclusive experience in a first monastery, he entered the laura of Euthymius in 544 and stayed there until 555. He was then part of a group of orthodox monks who went to occupy the New Laura after the expulsion of the Origenists. In 557 he went to the Great Laura of Sabas, where he stayed until his death.

He owes his fame to the series of biographies of monks of the Judean desert, which he wrote partly from archival evidence and partly from the stories of monks who had known the protagonists or their original circle in particular Cyriac for Euthymius and John the Hesychast for Sabas. For those whom he could still approach himself, he wrote their lives, adding his own personal testimony. Cyril shows the qualities of a sincere, trustworthy historian, as is shown especially by his concern for precision in the chronology of events. We must know, however, how to free the essential historical elements from a style which reflects the laws of the hagiographical literature of the time.

Thanks to him, we have a precise knowledge of the life of the lauras of Palestine of the 5th and 6th c., along with precise information on the patriarchate of Jerusalem between the fourth and the fifth ecumenical councils and on the second Origenist crisis, which shows him a firm adversary of the monks who followed Evagrius. For length and content, the two most important lives are those of Euthymius d. 473 and Sabas d. 532, respectively the inspirer and the organizer of the Chalcedonian monasticism of the Judean desert. The other five are much shorter: John the Hesychast d. after 557, Cyriac of the laura of Souka d. 557, Theodosius d. 529, Bishop Theognios d. 552 and Bishop Abrahamios a contemporary. Cyril’s work was quite popular in the Byzantine world. We have translations in Georgian, Arabic, Syriac, Palaeoslavonic and Latin.

CYRIL of Jerusalem Photo Gallery

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