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Friday, June 22, 2012

St. Cyril of Alexandria: The Blessed Virgin Mary is Truly Theotokos, Mother of GOD


Saint Cyril was born in 370 and lived a monastic life. He was ordained a priest and succeeded his uncle as bishop of Alexandria in 412. He had a preeminent role at the ecumenical Council of Ephesus (431); he fought bravely against the doctrines of Nestorius, and wrote many learned works explaining and defending the Catholic and Orthodox Faith. St. Cyril, Patriarch and POPE of Alexandria, Egypt, presided over the 3rd great Ecumenical Council of the Church which met in 431 AD in Ephesus and which proclaimed Mary as the Theotokos ("God-bearer" or "Mother of God"). Cyril died in 444. This statement (Pist. 1: PG 77, 14-18, 27-30) strongly is defending the divine motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Theotokos or GOD-Bearer.

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That anyone could doubt the right of the holy Virgin to be called the Mother of God fills me with astonishment. Surely she must be the Mother of God if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, and she gave birth to Him! Our Lord's disciples may not have used those exact words, but they delivered to us the belief those words enshrine, and this has also been taught us by the holy fathers.


In the third book of his work on the holy and consubstantial Trinity, our father Athanasius, of glorious memory, several times refers to the holy Virgin as "Mother of God." I cannot resist quoting his own words: "As I have often told you, the distinctive mark of Holy Scripture is that it was written to make a twofold declaration concerning our Savior; namely, that He is and has always been God, and that for our sake in these latter days He took flesh from the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and became man."

The divinely inspired Scriptures affirm that the Word of God was made flesh, that is to say, He was united to a human body endowed with a rational soul. He undertook to help the descendents of Abraham, fashioning a body for Himself from a woman and sharing our flesh and blood, to enable us to see in Him not only God, but also, by reason of this union, a man like ourselves.


It is held, therefore, that there are in Emmanuel two entities, divinity and humanity. Yet our Lord Jesus Christ is nonetheless one, the one true Son, both God and man; not a deified man on the same footing as those who share the divine nature by grace, but true God who for our sake appeared in human form. We are assured of this by Saint Paul's declaration: When the fullness of time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law and to enable us to be adopted as sons.

...I see here a joyful company of Christian men met together in ready response to the call of Mary, the holy and ever-virgin Mother of God. The great grief that weighed upon me is changed into joy by your presence, venerable Fathers. Now the beautiful saying of David the psalmist: How good and pleasant it is for brothers to live together in unity (Psalm 133) has come true for us.

Therefore, holy and incomprehensible Trinity, we salute you at whose summons we have come together to this church of Mary, the Theotokos.


Mary, Theotokos, we salute you. Precious vessel, worthy of the whole world’s reverence, you are an ever-shining light, the crown of virginity, the symbol of Orthodoxy, an indestructible temple, the place that held Him whom no place can contain, mother and virgin. Because of you the holy gospels could say: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

We salute you, for in your holy womb was confined him who is beyond all limitation. Because of you the Holy Trinity is glorified and adored; the Cross is called precious and is venerated throughout the world; the heavens exult; the angels and archangels make merry; demons are put to flight; the devil, that tempter, is thrust down from heaven; the fallen race of man is taken up on high; all creatures possessed by the madness of idolatry have attained knowledge of the truth; believers receive holy baptism; the oil of gladness is poured out; the Church is established throughout the world; pagans are brought to repentance.

What more is there to say? Because of you the light of the only-begotten Son of God has shone upon those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death; prophets pronounced the word of God; the apostles preached salvation to the Gentiles; the dead are raised to life, and kings rule by the power of the Holy Trinity.


Who can put Mary’s high honor into words? She is both mother and virgin. I am overwhelmed by the wonder of this miracle. Of course no one could be prevented from living in the house he had built for himself, yet who would invite mockery by asking His own servant to become His mother?

Behold then the joy of the whole universe. Let the union of God and man in the Son of the Virgin Mary fill us with awe and adoration. Let us fear and worship the undivided Trinity as we sing the praise of the ever-virgin Mary, the holy temple of God, and of God Himself, her Son and spotless Bridegroom. To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

--St. Cyril of Alexandria


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