On the eighteenth of this month [January], we commemorate our Holy Fathers Athanasius and Cyril, the Archbishops of Alexandria.
Although dead Athanasius lives,
For the righteous live even when dead.
To the Flight of Cyril
Today is prescribed the commemoration of the flight of Cyril,
Where he accomplished an ever-memorable achievement.
On the eighteenth the body of Athanasius was mournfully buried.
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.
* The primary feast day of Saint Cyril is not today, but June 9th. Today we commemorate the flight of Saint Cyril from Alexandria to Ephesus, because it brought much good to the Church of Christ, since the Third Ecumenical Synod took place there and the blasphemous heresies of Nestorius were condemned while Orthodoxy was upheld. Saint Athanasius is individually commemorated on May 9th, which celebrates the translation of his relics. The shared date of the 18th of January is first of all associated with the date of the death of Saint Athanasius, but it is also believed to be a response to the feast day of the Three Hierarchs on the 30th of January, not negating the value of these two great Fathers to the Church of Christ.
Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Thou didst shine with words of Orthodoxy and quench all heresy, and become victorious trophy-bearers. You enriched all things with piety and greatly adorned the Church, and worthily found Christ our God; by your prayers He grants mercy to all.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Great Hierarchs and champions of Christ's Church, preserve all who sing: O compassionate Lord, save those who with faith honour Thee.