ST. CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA
Bishop, Confessor and Doctor
(Born c. 375—died June 27, 444)
Cyril is best known for his role in the Council of Ephesus, where the Church confirmed that Christ is both God and man in one person.
Cyril is counted among the Church Fathers and the Doctors of the Church, and his reputation within the Christian world has resulted in his titles ‘Pillar of Faith’ and ‘Seal of all the Fathers’, but Theodosius II, the Roman Emperor, condemned him for behaving like a “proud pharaoh”, and the Nestorian bishops at the Council of Ephesus declared him a heretic, labeling him as a “monster, born and educated for the destruction of the church.”
During the fourth century, the Greek Church had already held two ecumenical councils to confirm Christ’s eternal preexistence as God prior to his incarnation as a man. From this perennial belief, it followed logically that Mary was the mother of God. Veneration of Mary as “Theotokos” confirmed the doctrine of the incarnation, and Christ’s status as equal to the God the Father.
Nestorius insisted that he, too, held these doctrines. But to Cyril, and many others, his refusal to acknowledge Mary as the Mother of God seemed to reveal a heretical view of Christ which would split him into two united but distinct persons: one fully human and born of Mary, the other fully divine and not subject to birth or death.
The council was a tumultuous affair. Patriarch John of Antioch, a friend of Nestorius, came to the city and convened a rival council which sought to condemn and depose Cyril. Tension between the advocates of Cyril and Nestorius erupted into physical violence at times, and both parties sought to convince the emperor in Constantinople to back their position.
During the council, which ran from June 22 to July 31 of the year 431, Cyril brilliantly defended the orthodox belief in Christ as a single eternally divine person who also became incarnate as a man. The council condemned Nestorius, who was deposed as patriarch and later suffered exile. Cyril, however, reconciled with John and many of the other Antiochian theologians who once supported Nestorius.
The Catholic Church did not commemorate St. Cyril in the Tridentine Calendar: it added his feast only in 1882, assigning to it the date of 9 February. The 1969 revision moved it to 27 June, considered to be the day of the saint’s death.
St. Cyril of Alexandria died on June 27, 444, having been a bishop for nearly 32 years and in 1883 he was declared a Doctor of the Church.
ST. APOLLONIA AND THE MARTYRS OF ALEXANDRIA
Born – 2nd century
Died –249, Alexandria, Egypt
Attributes – Tongs (sometimes with a tooth in them), depicted holding a cross or martyr’s palm or crown
Patronage – Dentists, Tooth problems, Achterbos, Belgium Ariccia, Italy Cuccaro Monferrato, Italy
She is represented in art with pincers in which a tooth is held. In a late 14th-century illumination from a French manuscript, the tooth in her pincers glows from within, like a lightbulb.
At Alexandria, in 249, the mob rose in savage fury against the Christians. Metras, an old man, perished first. His eyes were pierced with reeds, and he was stoned to death. A woman named Quinta was the next victim. She was led to a heathen temple and bidden worship. She replied by cursing the false god again and again, and she too was stoned to death. After this the houses of the Christians were sacked and plundered. They took the spoiling of their goods with all joy.
St. Apollonia, an aged virgin, was the most famous among the martyrs. Her teeth were beaten out; she was led outside the city, a huge fire was kindled, and she was told she must deny Christ, or else be burned alive. She was silent for a while, and then, moved by a special inspiration of the Holy Ghost, she leaped into the fire and died in its flames. The same courage showed itself the next year, when Decius became emperor, and the persecution grew till it seemed as if the very elect must fall away. The story of Dioscorus illustrates the courage of the Alexandrian Christians, and the esteem they had for martyrdom. He was a boy of fifteen. To the arguments of the judge he returned wise answers: he was proof against torture. His older companions were executed, but Dioscorus was spared on account of his tender years; yet the Christians could not bear to think that he had been deprived of the martyr’s crown, except to receive it afterwards more gloriously. “Dioscorus,” writes Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria at this time, “remains with us, reserved for some longer and greater combat.” There were indeed many Christians who came, pale and trembling, to offer the heathen sacrifices. But the judges themselves were struck with horror at the multitudes who rushed to martyrdom. Women triumphed over torture, till at last the judges were glad to execute them at once and put an end to the ignominy of their own defeat.
St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop, Confessor and Doctor
Commemoration St. Apollonia, Virgin and Martyr
Double – White vestments
Missa ‘In Medio’
INTROIT Ecclesiasticus 15: 5; Psalm 91: 2
In Medio Ecclesiæ aperuit os ejus: et implevit eum Dominus spiritu sapientiæ, et intellectus: stolam gloriæ induit eum. Ps. Bonum est confiteri Domino: et psallere nomini tuo, Altissime. Gloria Patri.
In the midst of the Church the Lord opened his mouth: and filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding: He clothed him with a robe of glory. Ps. It is good to give praise to the Lord: and to sing to Thy Name, O Most High. Glory be to the Father.
O God, who didst render blessed Cyril, Thy Confessor and Bishop, the invincible champion of the divine motherhood of the most blessed Virgin Mary: grant by his intercession, that we who believe her to be truly the Mother of God, may be saved through her maternal intercession. Through the same Lord.
COMMEMORATION of St Apollonia
O God, who among the wonders of Thy power hast granted even to the weaker sex the triumph of martyrdom: mercifully grant that we who celebrate the heavenly birthday of blessed Apollonia Thy Virgin and Martyr may, through her example, advance nearer to Thee. Through our Lord.
EPISTLE – II Timothy 4: 1-8
Dearly beloved, I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, Who shall judge the living and the dead, by His coming and His kingdom: preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and will indeed turn away from the truth, but will be turned into fables. But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. Be sober. For I am even now ready to be sacrificed. and the time of my dissolution is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the just Judge, will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love His coming.
GRADUAL – Psalm 36: 30-31
The mouth of the just shall meditate wisdom, and his tongue shall speak judgment. The law of His God is in his heart: and his steps shall not be supplanted.
TRACT – Psalm 111: 1-3
Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord: he shall delight exceedingly in His commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the righteous shall be blessed. Glory and wealth shall be in his house: and his justice remaineth for ever and ever.
GOSPEL – Matthew 5: 13-19
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and be trodden on by men You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, Who is in heaven. Do not think that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and so shall teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
OFFERTORY – Psalm 91: 13
The just shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow up like the cedar of Libanus.
O Almighty God, graciously regard our gifts: and grant that by the intercession of blessed Cyril we may worthily receive in our hearts our Lord Jesus Christ, Thine only-begotten Son, co-eternal with Thee in Thy glory: Who with Thee liveth and reigneth.
COMMEMORATION of St Apollonia
Receive, O Lord, the gifts which we bring on the solemnity of blessed Apollonia Thy Virgin and Martyr, through whose intercession we hope for deliverance. Through our Lord.
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God: through Christ our Lord. Through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, Dominations worship, Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise:
COMMUNION – Luke 12: 42
The faithful and wise servant, whom his lord setteth over his family: to give them their measure of wheat in due season.
Refreshed by these mysteries, we humbly beseech Thee, O Lord: that, aided by the example and merits of the blessed Bishop Cyril, we may be able to render fitting service to the most holy Mother of Thine only-begotten Son: Who with Thee liveth and reigneth.
COMMEMORATION of St Apollonia
May the mysteries which we have received be a help unto us, O Lord, and through the intercession of blessed Apollonia, Thy Virgin and Martyr, may they cause us to rejoice in Thine everlasting protection. Through our Lord.