Icon of SS Athanasios and Cyril of Alexandria – S249


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Egg Tempera


16th c.


Dionysiou Monastery, Mt. Athos, Greece


These two great hierarchs shepherded the Church in Alexandria during times of its persecution by heretics, whose mistaken and perverted teachings injured the life of the Faithful.  St. Athanasios the Great grew up in Egypt and attended the First Ecumenical Council in a.d. 325 where the teachings of Arius, that Christ was created by God, but not God Himself, were condemned.  As Patriarch of Alexandria from a.d. 328 to 373, he was hated and persecuted by Arians  throughout most of his life.  He lived in exile for 46 years, hiding from his persecutors in the desert, in a well, in a grave, and in private houses.  He, however, ended his life in peace in a.d. 373, restored again to his flock in Alexandria.

St. Cyril was the Patriarch of Alexandria from a.d. 412 to 444, and was the champion of Orthodoxy against the Nestorian heresy, which was condemned in a.d. 431 at the Third Ecumenical Council.  This heresy taught the disunion of the human and Divine natures of Christ, and because of this, would not call the Virgin Mary the Birth-giver of God.  St. Cyril left a rich legacy of his discourses and theological writings for us today.