Cyril of Jerusalem

c.310-386. Bishop of Jerusalem. According to the Synaxary he was born “of pious parents professing the orthodox faith and was bred up in the same in the reign of Constantine.” For Cyril's early clerical career in Jerusalem we depend upon Jerome's Chronicle, which is unfair to Cyril by representing his activities as part of the squabbles within Arianism. It seems he was made deacon about 330 by Macarius and priest by Maximus about 343. He renounced his orders received through the latter for canonical reasons (not because Maximus supported Athanasian doctrine) and thereby gained the temporary favor of Acacius* of Caesarea. About 350 he became bishop, but soon was in conflict with Acacius because, during a famine, he sold church property (donated by the emperor) to feed the poor.

After being deposed by a provincial synod in 357, he appealed to the emperor. Though cleared by the synod of Seleucia in 357, he was exiled by Constantius but was able to return in 361 when Julian the Apostate began to reign. From his fifteenth catechetical lecture we gather that Cyril opposed the move of Julian to help the Jews rebuild their Temple. After Acacius's death in 366, Cyril consecrated his nephew Gelasius as the new bishop of Caesarea. When Valens adopted the ecclesiastical policy of Constantius in 367, Cyril was again banished. In the eleven years of exile he cooperated with the body of bishops of northern Syria and eastern Asia Minor, which ranged itself around Melitius of Antioch, to restore the Nicene faith. In 378 he was able to return to his see; the synod of Jerusalem (381-82) referred to Cyril as rightful bishop of “the mother of all the churches” and one who had striven to preserve the true faith against Arianism. Ten years after his death, Aetheria, the famous pilgrim, visited Jerusalem and wrote in her journal of the beautiful liturgy, especially for Eastertide.

Cyril's twenty-four Catecheses are his chief surviving work. See English edition by W. Telfer (1955).