St Cyril, archbishop of Alexandria (444)
“St Cyril was… from Alexandria, born about the year 376, the nephew of Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, who also instructed the Saint in his youth. Having first spent much time with the monks of Nitria, he later became the successor to his uncle’s throne in 412. In 429, when Cyril heard tidings of the teachings of the new Patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius, he began attempting through private letters to bring Nestorius to renounce his heretical teachings about the Incarnation; and when the heresiarch did not repent, Saint Cyril, together with Pope Celestine of Rome, led the Orthodox opposition to his error. Saint Cyril presided over the Third Ecumenical Council of the 200 holy Fathers in the year 431, who gathered in Ephesus under Saint Theodosius the Younger. At this Council, by his most wise words he put to shame and convicted the impious doctrine of Nestorius, who, although he was in town, refused to appear before Cyril. Saint Cyril, besides overthrowing the error of Nestorius, has left to the Church full commentaries on the Gospels of Luke and John. Having shepherded the Church of Christ for thirty-two years, he reposed in 444.” (Great Horologion)
Today we commemorate St Cyril’s repose. He is also commemorated on January 18, the date of his restoration to his see in Alexandria after he had been driven out by Nestorians.
St Columba of Iona (597)
He was born to a prominent noble family, the Ui-Niall clan of Ireland, but he forsook all worldly things and became a monk at a young age. He founded the monasteries of Derry and Durrow, and traveled as a missionary in Ireland for almost twenty years. In 565 he settled on the island of Iona, off the coast of Scotland; there he remained for 32 years, establishing the famous monastery of Iona and continuing in his missionary labors. He reposed in peace at Iona.
Saint Kyril of Belozersk (1427)
He was born in Moscow in 1337, and took up the monastic life while young. Though he desired a life of strict silence and solitude, he was made abbot of the Simonov Monastery against his will. After a few years, obeying a revelation from the most holy Theotokos, he left his abbacy and went to the wilderness of Belozersk (White Lake) to live as a hermit. Others gathered there to live under his guidance, and in time the community became the Monastery of Belozersk. Saint Kyril was sought from far off as a staretz, or spiritual father, and was granted gifts of wonderworking. His humility was remarkable, as the following story shows.
Once one of his monks conceived a terrible hatred for Kyril, which tormented him for a whole year. Finally the monk worked up the courage to reveal his hatred to Kyril himself. Though the monk was full of shame and remorse at his malicious passion, Kyril comforted him and said, ‘All the others are in error about me; only you have perceived my unworthiness.’ Saint Kyril then forgave the man and sent him away with his blessing.
Saint Kyril reposed in peace in 1427, at the age of ninety.