July 10, 2020 - Epep 3, 1736
Departure of St. Kyrillos (Cyril) the First, the Twenty-Fourth Pope of Alexandria
On this day, of the year 160 A.D. (June 27th, 444 A.M.), the great father, the pillar of faith and the lamp of the Orthodox church, St. Kyrillos (Cyril) the First, the Alexandrian Pope, and the twenty-fourth Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, departed. This saint was the son of the sister of Pope Theophilus (23rd patriarch). He was raised by his uncle at the school of Alexandria where he was educated in its Theological and Philosophical subjects needed to defend Christianity and the Orthodox faith. After he learned a great deal of these subjects, his uncle sent him to the monastery of St. Macarius in the wilderness. There, he became a disciple to a righteous old monk called Sarabamon. He taught him the church books, and the sayings of the pure fathers. He trained his mind and body by practicing the works of righteousness and virtues for a period of time. After he spent in the wilderness five years, Pope Theophilus sent him to Abba Sarapion, the honorable bishop, so he increased in wisdom and knowledge. Shortly after, the bishop returned him to Alexandria. His uncle was rejoiced, ordained him a deacon, appointed him a preacher in the cathedral and made him his scribe. Whenever Kyrillos gave a sermon, he captured the hearts of his listeners with his eloquence, fluency, and his strong influence.
Since that time, he became well known for his vast knowledge, his great righteousness, and his deep influence in his teaching. When his uncle Pope Theophilus departed in the 18th of Babah 128 A.M. (October 15th, 412 A.M.), they enthroned this father in his place on the 20th of Babah, 128 A.M. (Oct. 17th, 412 A.D.). The church was illumined with his knowledge, and he gave special attention to resisting paganism and defending the Christian faith. He started to refute the falsity of Emperor Julian the Infidel in his ten essays that had been written after his apostasy. These were the favorite readings of the pagan young people of Alexandria and their pride, for they believed that it destroyed the principles of the Christian faith. Pope Kyrillos refuted them in terms that were clear, strong and convincing. He set out to rebut the heretics until he was able to close their churches and seize their contents. He ordered the expulsion of the Jews from Alexandria which led to a disturbance and confrontation between the Jews and the Christians. This led to the widening of the contention between the governor and this great saint. Because of his strong devotion to the Christian ethics and teachings, he found himself compelled to ask for reconciliation with the governor. However, the governor refused to accept the reconciliation, and the conflict between them continued for a period of time.
When the heresy of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, emerged, a Universal Council convened for him. He denied that the Virgin was the mother of God (Theotokos). Two hundred bishops assembled in the city of Ephesus during the reign of Emperor Theodosius II, known by Theodosius the Less. St. Cyril (Kyrillos), Pope of Alexandria, presided over this council. He debated Nestorius, explained to him his heretic opinion, and threatened him with excommunication and exile from his Chair, if he did not change his erroneous opinion. St. Kyrillos composed twelve discourses wherein he explained the true faith, refuting the error of Nestorius. Anba John, Patriarch of Antioch, and some of the bishops of the East disagreed with him, taking Nestorius' side. Nevertheless, shortly after, they came back and agreed with Kyrillos who was victorious over the enemies of the church. He wrote many discourses and valuable epistles, confirming in them, that God the Word is One Nature, One Will, and One Person incarnated. He anathematized anyone who separated Christ or differed from this true faith. The Emperor exiled Nestorius in the year 435 A.D. to the land of Egypt, and remained in the city of Akhmim until his death in the year 440 A.D. From the monumental works of Pope Kyrillos was the commentary of the Holy Books. When he finished his strife, he fell sick for a short time and departed in peace. He remained on the Alexandrian Chair for thirty-one years, eight months, and ten days. May his prayers be with us. Amen.
Departure of St. Celestine, Pope of Rome
On this day also, the great Pope Celestine, bishop of the city of Rome, departed (July 27th, 432 A.D.). This saint was the disciple of St. Boniface, bishop of Rome. At the time of his death, he commended that father Celestine would succeed him, and then he cautioned him saying, Take heed O my son for there would be ravening wolves in the city of Rome. This father was a righteous and well learned monk. When Pope Boniface departed on September 4th, 422 A.D., they ordained Celestine in his place on September 10th, 422 A.D., during the reign of Emperor Honorius. This Emperor died in the city of Raffeen in France in the year 423 A.D. One of the Emperors (Julian the Infidel) wanted to appoint Nestorius a patriarch for Rome and expel Celestine the saintly Pope. The people rose up and expelled Nestorius which made Emperor Julian enraged against him. This Saint fled to one of the monasteries nearby Pentapolis (Five cities) and dwelt there. God wrought many signs and miracles by his hands. Then, the angel Raphael appeared to him in a dream saying: Rise up and go to the city of Antioch to its patriarch St. Dimitrius, and abide with him for the Emperor had decided in his heart to kill you upon his return from the war. When he woke up, he went forth from that monastery along with two brothers and came to the city of Antioch.
He found its Patriarch ill, told him what had happened to him, and stayed in one of the monasteries of Antioch. Sts. Ignatius and Boniface along with a third venerable person appeared to the Emperor in a dream and said to him, Why have you left the city of the saints without a bishop. Behold, God will remove your soul from you, and you shall die by the hands of your enemies. The Emperor asked, What shall I do? They replied, Do you believe in the Son of God? He answered saying, I do believe. They said to him, Send and bring our son bishop Celestine with honor, and restore him to his throne. When the Emperor awoke from his dream, he wrote to the patriarch of Antioch, Demetrius, asking him to inform his envoys of the whereabouts of Celestine, and return him to his See. They found him and returned him to his Chair with great honor, and the people received him with joy and happiness. The peace and the affairs of the church were established by his presence. When Nestorius blasphemed and the Council assembled for him, Celestine was unable to attend the Council, because of his illness, so he sent two priests with a letter excommunicating Nestorius in it. The Emperor believed in what Nestorius said, nevertheless he yielded to the decisions of the Council and exiled Nestorius to Egypt. When the Lord willed for Celestine to depart from this world, St. Boniface, his predecessor, and St. Athanasius, the Apostolic, appeared to him and told him, Affirm your people in the faith, for Christ is calling you. When he woke up he commanded his people saying, Take heed to yourselves, for behold ravening wolves shall come into this city. Having said this he added, I am leaving, for the saints are calling for me. When he said that, he departed in peace. May his prayers be with us and Glory be to God forever. Amen.