Science of the Saints, 18 January, Saints Athanasius the Great and Cyril of Alexandria


Sainted Athanasius and Cyril, Archbishops of Alexandria, have a conjoined feast established to them in acknowledgement of the profound gratitude of Holy Church for their incessant lengthy labour in affirmation of the dogmas of the Orthodox faith and their zealous defense of such against heretical teachings.

Of these two Holy Fathers of ours, Saint Athanasius flourished during the reign of Constantine the Great (306-337) and was present at the First Ecumenical Synod in Nicaea in the year 325 as a Deacon of Archbishop Alexander of Alexandria. There he put to shame the impious Arius with wise words and proofs from Holy Scripture. Following the repose of the blessed Alexander, he was made Archbishop of Alexandria. Because Constantius (337-361), the son of Constantine the Great, was an Arian, he exiled this Great Athanasius to various places. After the blessed one remained steadfast for forty years in such persecution, he departed to the Lord.

Saint Cyril flourished during the reign of Theodosios the Younger (408-450), and was the nephew of Archbishop Theophilos of Alexandria, upon whose throne he became the successor. He was the leader and champion of the Holy Third Ecumenical Synod in Ephesus, which gathered in the year 431, and condemned the impious Nestorius, who spoke many blasphemies and dogmatized cacodoxies against our Holy Lady Theotokos. This Holy Cyril shined with many successes and virtues, and departed to the Lord.

In his physical appearance, Saint Athanasius was average in height and in age, slightly broad, bent forward, graceful in his face, of fair complexion, baldheaded, hooknosed like a falcon. His face was not long, but he had a wide chin, an average beard and small mouth. He was not very white, but he shined with a yellowish color. Saint Cyril was slightly fair in the color of his skin, his eyebrows were shaggy and big and suitably round. He was long-nosed and long-cheeked, with full lips, a bald head, a small space between his eyes, and his beard was shaggy and long. His hair was twisted and slightly blonde, with a mixture of white and black hairs. Thier Synaxis is celebrated in the most holy Great Church.

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