St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Friends in Christ,
Today is the Feast of St. Cyril of Jerusalem. St. Cyril was ordained bishop of Jerusalem in 348AD, and he was a great defender of the Faith.  Twice he was exiled because of his faithfulness to Christ. Of the 35 years he was a bishop, 16 were spent in exile.   

St. Cyril is perhaps best known for his Catechetical Instructions.  Shortly after he was ordained a priest, his bishop thought so highly of him,  that he put him in charge of teaching the catechumens.  These are the people who are preparing for baptism. This is basically what we know today as RCIA.  Cyril’s catechetical talks were delivered for several years to these candidates – in those days, one prepared for years to be baptized (if you were an adult).   

This series of 19 talks on the faith are the only ones that we still have from that period;  they are very valuable because they contain a full exposition of the teaching and ritual of the Church in the middle of the 4th century.  His explanations of theology and doctrines is so clear, that he not only addressed challenges to the faith in his day,  but anticipated questions that would arise later.  

When he was ordained bishop, a remarkable phenomenon happened which made an impression on the entire city. A letter written, tells us what happened: ‘On the 7th of May, about 9 o’clock, a great luminous cross appeared in the sky, just over Golgotha; it was seen not by one or two persons, but by the whole city. It continued for several hours, visible to our eyes and brighter than the sun.  The whole city, filled with awe,  ran to the church giving praise to Jesus Christ.’  

This was a sign which occurred at the beginning of his episcopate. But a more interesting event also occurred during St. Cyril’s life.   
The Emperor Julian, who had turned against the Faith – he wished to prove the falsehood of Christ’s words.  Jesus had foretold the complete and utter destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, which had come to pass in 70AD; Julian therefore, in order to contradict Christ, ordered that the Temple be rebuilt.   

As the vast preparations were being made by the workers to rebuild the temple, Bishop Cyril stood by calmly and predicted that instead of rebuilding, they would actually demonstrate the prophecy of Christ that they would not be able to do it.   No sooner did the workman begin, than terrible fireballs bursted forth from the earth at the foundation; fire appeared on all of the workmen’s tools,  and images of crosses appeared on their garments. With the onset of earthquakes, the whole project had to be abandoned, just as Cyril had foretold.   

In those days, the kingdom of God was growing, and a great light of that period was St. Cyril of Jerusalem.   

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