Prologue Search

1. St Cyril, Archbishop of Alexandria.

He was of noble birth and a close kinsman of Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, after whose death he was chosen as Patriarch. He fought three fierce battles in the course of his life: against the Novatianist heretics, against Nestorius and against the Jews of Alexandria. The Novatianists began in Rome, and were so called after their leader, the heretic priest Novatian. They were filled with pride at their virtues, went about dressed in white, banned second marriages and declared that one must not pray for those who had committed mortal sin nor receive back into the Church those who had once fallen away, however deeply they might repent. Cyril overcame them and drove them out of Alexandria, together with their bishop. The battle with the Jews was harder and bloodier. The Jews had been in the ascendant in Alexandria right from the time that Alexander the Great founded the city. Their hatred towards the Christians was vicious and mindless. They killed Christians by treachery, by poison and by crucifixion. After a long and difficult struggle, Cyril succeeded in inducing the Emperor to drive the Jews out of Alexandria. His battle, however, against Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, was resolved at the Third Ecumenical Council in Ephesus. Cyril himself presided at this Council, and also represented Pope Celestine of Rome at his request, he being prevented by old age from attending the Council. Nestorius was condemned, anathematised and exiled by the Emperor to the eastern borders of the Empire, where he died. After the end of these battles, Cyril lived in peace and guided Christ's flock with zeal. He went to the Lord in the year 444. It is said that he composed the hymn: 'Hail, Mother of God and Virgin.'

2. St Kiril of Byelozersk.

Born and educated in Moscow, the son of a great house, he was tonsured in the Simonov monastery, where he lived in an asceticism that was a marvel to the other monks. To conceal his virtues, he feigned madness. He spoke face-to-face with St Sergius of Radonezh, and learned much of great value from him. He was chosen against his will as abbot of his monastery, but constantly begged the Mother of God to show him how he could continue in his silent asceticism. One night he saw a great light and heard a voice: 'Kiril, leave here and go to the white lake!', so he left the Simonov monastery with one other monk and went to the shore of the lake (Byelozersk means 'white lake'). There, in the thick of a pine forest, he continued his ascetic life. In time, this hermitage became a large monastery. Kiril received from God the gift of working miracles, and went to the Lord, whom he had loved enduringly with a great love, at the age of ninety in the year 1429.

From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK