Feast Day : March 18 (in the East); March 18 or 20 (in the West)
Little is known of Cyril of Jerusalem’s life. He was born in Jerusalem about 315 and probably was raised a Christian. He became a priest around 345–347, and was ordained by St. Maximus. Cyril became the bishop or patriarch of Jerusalem, succeeding Maximus after the latter died; stories differ as to how he obtained the position. In one version, Cyril was promised the episcopate only if he repudiated his ordination. Cyril declined and agreed only to become deacon, but through fraud and manipulation got the position. In another version, Maximus was driven out and was succeeded by Cyril. For the next 36 years, Cyril had to deal with the Arian heresy, and three times was exiled as a result of the politics involved. In 357–359 he went to Tarsus. In 360 he was driven out again, only to be restored in 361 by Emperor Julian the Apostate. In 367 Emperor Valens banished all bishops, and Cyril was exiled until Valens died in 378. In 380, St. Gregory of Nyssa came to Jerusalem and approved of Cyril but found the city corrupt in morals. Cyril and Gregory attended the Council of Constantinople in 381. At this council, Theodosius ordered the Nicene Creed to be promulgated. The exact date of Cyril’s death is unknown. He probably died on March 18, 386. Cyril left a body of work highly valued by the Church. The most famous is his theological masterpiece Catecheses, a collection of 18 instructional addresses for baptismal candidates during Lent and five—known as the Mystagogic—for the recently baptized at Easter. Cyril composed numerous catechetical lectures and sermons (including his best-known on the pool at Bethesda). He wrote on the mystical origin of the Septuagint, the story of the phoenix and the mystical elements of the Mass.