The holy fathers who defended the faith in the face of great dangers

Athanasius and Cyril, great hierarchs of true piety

saints athanasius and cyril

Saints Athanasius and Cyril were the archbishops of Alexandria and steadfast defenders of the purity of the Christian faith against the most influential heresies of their times. Both highly educated and well versed in theology and philosophy, they left behind a host of apologetic works still studied today. In their advocacy, they faced many hardships and risks. They exposed themselves to multiple dangers, but never wavered in their mission.

Saint Athanasius served as Patriarch of Alexandria for 47 years, starting 325. At one stage, he remained the only bishop that had not fallen into heresy. His refutation of Arianism was well received by the church fathers but earned him the wrath of the Arians for the rest of his life. Persecuted by his opponents, he spent more than two decades in exile. He had his first open battle with the followers of the Arian heresy in 325, when, at 28 years of age he spoke eloquently at the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea against the heretics.

Saint Syril is honoured for his role in the Council of Ephesus of 431, which defended the Christian faith from the false teachings of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, regarding the person of the Virgin Mary. The victory of St. Cyril at the council did not appear certain at the time, as his opponent was highly influential and had powerful supporters, such as Patriarch John of Antioch. The Council's decision was swayed by St. Cyril's brilliant defence of the true teaching.

January 31, 2022
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