Friday, March 18, 2011

Alexander and Cyril of Jerusalem

Today we commemoratethe martyrdom of Alexander of Jerusalem. According to Wikipedia:

He was the first Bishop of Cappadocia and was afterwards associated as coadjutor with the Bishop of Jerusalem, Saint Narcissus, who was then 116 years old. Alexander had been imprisoned for his faith in the time of Roman Emperor Alexander Severus and on being released came to Jerusalem, where he was compelled by the aged bishop to remain, and assist him in the government of that see. This arrangement, however, was entered into with the consent of all the bishops of Palestine (Syria Palaestina). It was Alexander who permitted Origen, although only a layman, to speak in the churches. For this concession he was taken to task, but he defended himself by examples of other permissions of the same kind given even to Origen himself elsewhere, although then quite young. Alban Butler says that they had studied together in the great Christian school of Alexandria. Alexander ordained him a priest.

Alexander is praised for the library he built at Jerusalem.

Finally, in spite of his years, he, with several other bishops, was carried off a prisoner to Caesarea, and as the historians[who?] say, "The glory of his white hairs and great sanctity formed a double crown for him in captivity". His vita states that he suffered many tortures, but survived them all. When the wild beasts were brought to devour him, some licked his feet, and others their impress on the sand of the arena. Worn out by his sufferings, he died in prison. This was in the year 251.

We also commemorate Cyril of Jerusalem. According to Wikipedia:

Little is known of his life before he became a bishop but some is known; the assignment of the year "315" for his birth rests on mere conjecture and appears to be actually closer to 313. St. Cyril was ordained a deacon by Bishop St. Macarius of Jerusalem about 335, and a priest some eight years later by Bishop St. Maximus. About the end of 350, he succeeded St. Maximus in the See of Jerusalem and became its bishop.[2] Naturally inclined to peace and conciliation, St. Cyril at first took a rather moderate position, distinctly averse from Arianism, but (like not a few of his undoubtedly orthodox contemporaries) was by no means eager to accept the uncompromising term homoousios (ὁμοούσιος) (that is, that Jesus Christ and God are of the "same substance" and are equally God). Separating from his superior, Metropolitan, Acacius of Caesarea (a partisan of Arius, who taught that Jesus was a divine being created by—and therefore inferior to—God the Father), St. Cyril took the side of the Eusebians, the "right wing" of the post-Nicene conciliation party, and thus got into difficulties with his superior, which were increased by Acacius's jealousy of the importance assigned to St. Cyril's See by the Council of Nicaea. A council held under Acacius's influence in 358 deposed St. Cyril and forced him to retire to Tarsus (in present-day Turkey). At that time he was officially charged with selling church property to help the poor, although the actual motivation appears to be that St. Cyril was teaching Nicene, and not Arian, doctrine in his catechism. On the other hand, the conciliatory Council of Seleucia in the following year, at which St. Cyril was present, deposed Acacius. In 360 the process was reversed through the metropolitan's court influence, and Cyril suffered another year's exile from Jerusalem, until Emperor Julian's accession allowed him to return. The Arian Emperor Valens banished him once more in 367. St. Cyril was able to return again, at the accession of Emperor Gratian, after which he remained undisturbed until his death in 386. St. Cyril's jurisdiction over Jerusalem was expressly confirmed by the First Council of Constantinople (381), at which he was present. At that council, he voted for acceptance of the term homooussios, having been finally convinced that there was no better alternative.

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