St. Cyril of Alexandria and the Mother of God

Today is the feast day of St. Cyril of Alexandria. This Egyptian saint is well known as one who fought against the Nestorian heresy. Nestorius said that we should not call mother Mary the Mother of God (Theotokos) but instead we should call her Mother of Christ (Christokos). He went on to say that that Jesus Christ was two persons— God and man, and that Mary gave birth to the man. But in reality Jesus Christ is one person–fully man and fully God. Here is the catechism:

466 The Nestorian heresy regarded Christ as a human person joined to the divine person of God’s Son. Opposing this heresy, St. Cyril of Alexandria and the third ecumenical council, at Ephesus in 431, confessed “that the Word, uniting to himself in his person the flesh animated by a rational soul, became man.” Christ’s humanity has no other subject than the divine person of the Son of God, who assumed it and made it his own, from his conception. For this reason the Council of Ephesus proclaimed in 431 that Mary truly became the Mother of God by the human conception of the Son of God in her womb: “Mother of God, not that the nature of the Word or his divinity received the beginning of its existence from the holy Virgin, but that, since the holy body, animated by a rational soul, which the Word of God united to himself according to the hypostasis, was born from her, the Word is said to be born according to the flesh.”

Around the time of my “reversion” I was outside praying the Hail Mary and I stopped at the words Mother of God. That came to become my favorite title of Our Lady. It explains why we honor her so much. Every one of the privileges of Our Lady is rooted in Her privilege to be the Mother of God.

This title mother of God is Christocentric because it acknowledges that Jesus is God.

Thank God for raising up great defenders of the faith like St. Cyril of Alexandria and for the Church— the pillar and bulwark of the truth!

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