St. Cyril of Alexandria
from the Roman Breviary

The praises of Cyril of Alexandria have been celebrated not only by one writer or another, but have even been registered in the acts of the Ecumenical Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon. He was born of distinguished parents, and was the nephew of Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria. While he was still young, he gave clear proof of his excellent understanding. After giving a deep study to letters and science he betook himself to John, Bishop of Jerusalem, to be perfected in the Christian faith. After his return to Alexandria, and the death of Theophilus, he was raised to that see. In this office he kept ever before his eyes the type of the Shepherd of souls described by the Apostle; and by ever adhering thereto deservedly earned the glory of a holy Bishop.

He burned with zeal for the salvation of souls, and took all care to keep the flock entrusted to him in purity of faith and life, and to guard them from the poisonous pastures of heresy and infidelity. Hence, in accordance with law, he caused the followers of Novatus to be expelled from the city, and procured the punishment of the Jews, whose rage had led them to plan a massacre of the Christians. Cyril's singular care for the preservation of the Catholic faith shone forth especially in his conflict with Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, who declared that Jesus Christ had been born of the Virgin Mary as man only and not as God, and that the divinity had been bestowed upon Him because of His merits. Cyril in vain attempted to convert Nestorius, and then denounced him to Pope St. Celestine.

A delegate of Pope Celestine, Cyril presided at the Council of Ephesus where the Nestorian heresy was absolutely proscribed; Nestorius was condemned and deprived of his see; and the Catholic doctrine as to the unity of Person in Christ and the divine Motherhood of the glorious Virgin Mary was laid down amid the rejoicings of all the people, who escorted the bishops to their lodgings with a torch-light procession. For this reason Nestorius and his followers made Cyril the object of slanders, insults, and persecutions which he bore with profound patience, for he cared only for the faith, and paid no attention to what the heretics might do or say against him. At length he died a holy death, in the year of salvation 444, the thirty-second of his episcopacy, after having performed great labors for the Church of God, and having composed numerous works, both in refutation of paganism and heresy, in exposition of sacred Scripture, and in explanation of Catholic dogmas.

St. Cyril of Alexandria's Litany of Praise of the Mother of God

Excerpt from sermon preached by St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria (444), presiding as representative of the Holy See at the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus, 431. In refuting Nestorianism, he is called Doctor of the Incarnation. The above translation of his praises of Dei-para received the imprimatur of the Most Rev. Francis Gilfillan, Bishop of St. Joseph (d. 1933).

Hail, O Mary, Mother of God, Virgin and Mother! Morning Star, perfect vessel.

Hail, O Mary, Mother of God! holy temple in which God Himself was conceived.

Hail, O Mary, Mother of God! chaste and pure dove.

Hail, O Mary, Mother of God! ever-effulgent light; from thee proceedeth the Sun of Justice.

Hail, O Mary, Mother of God! Thou didst enclose in thy sacred womb the One Who cannot be encompassed.

Hail, O Mary, Mother of God! With the shepherds we sing the praise of God, and with the angels the song of thanksgiving: Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to men of good will.

Hail, O Mary, Mother of God! Through thee came to us the Conqueror and the triumphant Vanquisher of hell.

Hail, O Mary, Mother of God! Through thee blossoms the splendor of the resurrection.

Hail, O Mary, Mother of God! Thou hast saved every faithful Christian.

Hail, O Mary, Mother of God! Who can praise thee worthily, O glorious Virgin Mary!

Our Lady's Divine Maternity

How the Incarnation of Jesus manifests the Greatness of His Mother.
"Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus."--Luke i. 31

The Lord, whom earth and air and sea,
With one adoring voice resound
Who rules them all in majesty,
In Mary's heart a cloister found.
Lo! in an humble Virgin's womb,
O'ershadowed by Almighty power;
He whom the stars, and sun and moon,
Each serve in their appointed hour.

O Mother blest! to whom was given,
Within thy compass to contain
The Architect of earth and heaven,
Whose hands the universe sustain;
To thee was sent an Angel down;
In thee the Spirit was enshrined;
From thee came forth that mighty One,
The long-desired of mankind.

O Queen of all the virgin choir!
Enthroned above the starry sky,
Who with thy bosom's milk didst feed
Thy own Creator Lord most high!
What man had lost in hapless Eve
Thy sacred womb to man restores;
Thou to the wretehed here beneath
Hast opened heaven's eternal doors.

Hail, O refulgent Hall of Light!
Hail, Gate August of Heaven's high King,
Through the redeemed to endless life,
Thy praise let all the nation sing.
O Jesu! born of Virgin bright,
Immortal glory be to Thee;
Praise to the Father infinite,
And Holy Ghost eternally.

Condemnation of Nestorius from the Liturgical Year, 1904

"It was then that Satan produced Nestorius… enthroned in the Chair of Constantinople . . . In the very year of his exaltation, on Christmas Day 428, Nestorius, taking advantage of the immense concourse which had assembled in honor of the Virgin Mother and her Child, pronounced from the Episcopal pulpit the blasphemous words: 'Mary did not bring forth God; her Son was only a man, the instrument of the Divinity.' The multitude shuddered with horror. Eusebius, a simple layman, rose to give expression to the general indignation, and protested against this impiety.

Soon a more explicit protest was drawn up and disseminated in the name of the members of this grief-stricken Church, launching an anathema against anyone who should dare to say: 'The Only-begotten Son of the Father and the Son of Mary are different persons.' This generous attitude was the safeguard of Byzantium, and won the praise of popes and councils. When the shepherd becomes a wolf, the first duty of the flock is to defend itself. Normally, without doubt, doctrine descends from the bishops to the faithful, and those who are subjects, in the order of the faith, are not to judge their superiors. But in the treasure of revelation there are some essential points which every Christian, by at the very fact of his title as Christian, is bound to know and defend."

The Anathemas of the Chapter of Cyril
(Against Nestorius)

Can. 1. If anyone does not confess that God is truly Emmanuel, and that on this account the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God (for according to the flesh she gave birth to the Word of God become flesh by birth), let him be anathema.

Can. 2. If anyone does not confess that the Word of God the Father was united to a body by hypostasis and that one is Christ with His own body, the same one evidently both God and man, let him be anathema.

Can. 3. If anyone in the one Christ divides the subsistences after the union, connecting them by a junction only according to worth, that is to say absolute sway or power, and not rather by a joining according to physical union, let him be anathema.

Can. 4. If anyone portions out to two persons, that is to say subsistences, the words in the Gospels and the apostolic writings, whether said about Christ by the saints, or by Him concerning Himself, and attributes some as if to a man specially understood beside the Word of God, others as befitting God alone, to the Word of God the Father, let him be anathema.

Can. 5. If anyone ventures to say that Christ is a man inspired by God, and not rather that He is truly God, as a son by nature, as the Word was made flesh and has shared similarly with us in blood and flesh, let him be anathema.

Can. 6. If anyone ventures to say that God or the Lord is the Word of Christ from God the Father and does not rather confess the same as at once both God and man, since the Word was made flesh according to the Scriptures, let him be anathema.

Can. 7. If anyone says that Jesus as man was assisted by the Word of God, and that the glory of the Only-begotten was applied as to another existing beside Him, let him be anathema.

Can. 8. If anyone ventures to say that the assumed man must be worshipped and glorified along with God the Word, and bears the same title with Him, as the one in the other, for the "(Greek Text)" always being added will force (one) to understand this, and does not rather honor Emmanuel with one worship and apply one glory to Him, according as the Word was made flesh, let him be anathema.

Can. 9. If anyone says that the one Lord Jesus Christ was glorified by the Spirit, as it were using through Him a power belonging to another, and that He received from Him the power to work against unclean spirits, and to perform miracles for men, and does not say rather that the Spirit through which He worked the miracles was His own; let him be anathema.

Can. 10. The Divine Scripture says that Christ was made a high priest and apostle of our confession [Heb. 3:1] and in the odor of fragrance offered himself to God and the Father for us [Eph. 5:2]. Therefore, if anyone says that the Word of God Himself was not made our High-priest and Apostle, when He was made flesh [John 1:14] and man in our likeness, but that as it were another besides Himself specifically a man (born) of a woman, or if anyone says that He offered the oblation for Himself and not rather for us alone, for He who knew not sin would not have needed oblations, let him be anathema.

Can. 11. If anyone does not confess that the flesh of the Lord is life-giving and belongs personally to the Word of God, the Father, but that it is of someone else besides Him, but joined to Him according to worthiness, as having only the divine indwelling, and not rather as we said, is life-giving, since He was made the Word's own, and has power to give life to all things, let him be anathema.

Can. 12. If anyone does not confess that the Word of God suffered in the flesh, and tasted death in the flesh, and was made the firstborn from the dead [Col. 1:18] according to which as God He is both the life and the life-giver, let him be anathema.

Saint Apollonia, Virgin and Martyr
from the Liturgical Year, 1904

The holy Virgin who this day claims the homage of our devotion and praise, is offered to us by the Church of Alexandria. Apollonia is a Martyr of Christ; her name is celebrated and honoured throughout the whole world; and she comes to us on this ninth day of February, to add her own example to that which we have so recently had from her Sister Saints, Agathy and Dorothy; like them, she bids us fight courageously for heaven. To her, this present life was a thing of little value, and no sooner does she receive God's inspiration to sacrifice it, than she does what her would-be executioners intended doing,--she throws herself into the flames prepared for her. It is no unusual thing, now-a-days, for men that are wearied of the trials, or afraid of the humiliations, of this world, to take away their own lives, and prefer suicide to the courageous performance of duty: but Apollonia's motive for hastening her death by a moment's anticipation was, to testify her horror of the apostacy that was proposed to her. This is not the only instance we meet with, during times of Persecution, of the Holy Spirit's inspiring this lavish sacrifice, to saintly Virgins, who trembled for their faith or their virtue. It is true, such examples are rare; but they teach us, among other things, that our lives belong to God alone, and that we should be in a readiness of mind to give them to him, when and as He pleases to demand them of us.

There is one very striking circumstance in the martyrdom of St. Apollonia. Her executioners, to punish the boldness wherewith she confessed our Lord Jesus Christ, beat out her teeth. This has suggested to the Faithful, when suffering the cruel pain of tooth-ache, to have recourse to St. Apollonia; and their confidence is often rewarded, for God would have us seek the protection of his Saints, not only in our spiritual, but even in our bodily, sufferings and necessities.

The Liturgy thus speaks the praises of our Saint.

Apollonia was a Virgin oi Alexandria. In the persecution under the Emperor Decius, when she was far advanced in years, she was brought up to trial, and ordered to pay adoration to idols. She turned from them with contempt, and declared that worship ought to be given to Jesus Christ, the true God. Whereupon, the impious executioners broke and pulled out her teeth; then lightmg a pile of wood, they threatened to burn her alive, unless she would hate Christ, and adore their gods. She replied, that she was ready to suffer every kind of death for the faith of Jesus Christ. Upon this, they seized her, intending to do as they said. She stood for a moment, as though hesitating what she should do; then, snatching herself from their hold, she suddenly threw herself into the fire, for there was within her the flame of the Holy Ghost. Her body was soon consumed, and her most pure soul took its flight, and was graced with the everlasting crown of martyrdom.


What energy was thine, Apollonia! Thy persecutors threaten thee with fire; but far from fearing it, thou art impatient for it, as though it were a throne, and thou ambitious to be queen. Thy dread of sin took away the fear of death, nor didst thou wait for man to be thy executioner. This thy courage surprises our cowardice; and yet, the burning pile,--into which thou didst throw thyself when asked to apostatise, and which was a momentary pain leading thy soul to eternal bliss,--was nothing when we compare it with that everlasting fire, to which the sinner condemns himself, almost every day of his life. He heeds not the flames of hell, and deems it no madness to purchase them at the price of some vile passing pleasure. And with all this, worldlings can be scandalised at the Saints, and call them exaggerated, extravagant, imprudent,--because they believed that there is but one thing necessary!

Awaken in our hearts, Apollonia, the fear of sin, which gnaws for eternity the souls of them who die with its guilt upon them. If the fire, which had a charm for thee, seems to us the most frightful of tortures, let us turn our fear of suffering and death into a preservative against sin, which plunges men into that abyss, whence the smoke of their torments shall ascend for ever and ever (Apoc. xiv. 11), as St. John tells us in his Revelations. Have pity on us, most brave and prudent Martyr. Pray for sinners. Open their eyes to see the evils that threaten them. Get us the fear of God, that so we may merit his mercies, and begin in good earnest to love Him.