Cyril

, of Alexandria, another celebrated father of the church, succeeded his uncle Theophilus in the bishopric of that place in the year 412; and as the bishops of Alexandria had long acquired great authority and power in that city, Cyril took every opportunity to confirm and increase it. He was no sooner advanced to this see, than he drove the Novatians out of the city; and, as Dupin says, stripped Theopemptus their bishop of every thing he had. In the year 415 the Jews committed some insult upon the Christians of Alexandria, which so inflamed the zeal of Cyril that he put himself at the head of his people, demolished the synagogues of the Jews, drove them all out of the city, and suffered the Christians to pillage their effects. This, however, highly displeased Orestes, the governor of the town; | who began to be sensible that the bishop’s authority, if not timely suppressed, might possibly be found too strong for that of the magistrate. Upon which a kind of war broke but between Orestes and the bishop, and each had his party the inhabitants were inclined to be seditious; many tumults were raised, and some battles fought in the very streets of Alexandria. One day, when Orestes was abroad in an open chariot, he found himself instantly surrounded with about 500 monks, who had left their monasteries to revenge the quarrel of their bishop. They pursued him fiercely, wounded him with stones, and had certainly killed him, if the people had not restrained their fury till his guards came up to his relief. Ammonius, one of these monks, was afterwards seized by the order of Orestes, and, being put upon the rack, died under the operation. Cyril, however, had him immediately canonized, and took every public opportunity of commending his zeal and constancy. About the same time there was at Alexandria a heathen philosophess, named Hypatia, whose fame and character were every where so celebrated, that people came from all parts to see and to consult her. Orestes saw her often, which made the Christians imagine that it was she who inspired the governor with such an aversion to their bishop. This suspicion wrought so strongly upon some of their zealots, that on a certain day they seized upon Hypatia as she was returning home, dragged her violently through the streets, and caused the mob to tear her limb from limb. Damascius, who wrote the life of Isidore the philosopher, charges Cyril himself with being the contriver of this horrid murder.

But what affords the most memorable instance of Cyril’s fiery zeal, is his quarrel with Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople. Nestorius had urged in some of his homilies, that the virgin Mary ought not to be called the mother of God; and these homilies coming to Egypt, raised no small disturbances among the monks there. Cyril wrote a pastoral letter to the monks, in which he maintained, that she was indeed the mother of God, and therefore ought to be called so. As soon as Nestorius heard of this letter, he openly declared Cyril his enemy, and refused to have any iurther commerce with him. Cyril upon this, wrote Nestorius a very civil letter, without approving his doctrine; which Nestorius answered as civilly, without retracting it. The affair was laid at length before pope Celestine j after | which Cyril, supported by the pontiff’s authority, began, to issue forth anathemas against Nestorius and his doctrine, and the quarrel rose to such a pitch, that it was necessary to convene a general council at Ephesus, in order to put an end to it: where some bishops of the East, who were assembled on the part of Nestorius, gave Cyril so warm an opposition, that they got him deprived of his bishopric, and thrown into prison. But he was soon set at liberty and restored, and gained a complete victory over Nestorius, who was deposed from his see of Constantinople in the year 431 Cyril returned to Alexandria, where he died in the year 444. His works are voluminous, and have been often printed. They consist of the commentaries upon the Pentateuch, called “Glaphyra, &c.Isaiah, the 12 lesser prophets, and St. John’s gospel; 17 books on the adoration and worship of God in spirit and truth, composed in form of a dialogue; dialogues on the holy and consubstantial trinity, and on the incarnation; a discourse of the orthodox faith; homilies, letters, and apologies. John Aubert, canon of Laon, published the best edition in Greek and Latin, 1638, 6 vols. fol. which are bound in seven, because vol. 5th consists of two parts. St. Cyril’s style is diffuse and singular; his writings contain much subtilty, metaphysical reasoning, and all the niceties of logic. St. Isidore, of Pelusium, accuses him of acting with too much zeal and heat during the disputes in which he was engaged; but the catholic writers think that he atoned for that fault by his piety and innocent life. 1

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Cave.—Dupin.—Moreri.