Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Saint Cyril, Bishop of Turov (+ 1183)

St. Cyril of Turov (Feast Day - April 28)

Saint Cyril was born of wealthy and noble parents in the thirties of the twelfth century in the city of Turov at the River Pripyat.

From his early years Cyril eagerly read the sacred books and attained a profound understanding of them. He studied not only in Russian, but also in Greek. When he reached maturity Cyril refused his inheritance and was tonsured in Turov’s Saint Boris and Gleb Monastery. He struggled much in fasting and prayer and taught the monks to obey the abbot. A monk who is not obedient to the abbot does not fulfill his vow, and therefore is not able to be saved.

Three writings of Saint Cyril on monastic life have survived, one of which, “A Narrative on the Black Clergy from the Old Law and from the New,” may be ascribed to a period of his being in the monastery.


After a certain while Saint Cyril lived on a pillar, where he increased his asceticism, and meditated on the Holy Scripture. Many turned to him for counsel in the spiritual life.

Saint Cyril’s holiness of life and profound enlightenment became known to many, and so he was chosen as Bishop of Turov, now southern Belarus.* In 1169 Saint Cyril took part in a council censuring Bishop Theodore, who occupied the Vladimir-Suzdal cathedra and who sought to separate from the metropolitanate of Kiev. Saint Cyril denounced the heresy of Theodore and wrote many letters to the holy prince Andrew Bogoliubsky (July 4), in which he provided him instruction and guidance in discovering the cause of church disorders in the Rostov region.

Because of his love for solitude, Saint Cyril left his See (by the year 1182, Bishop Laurence is mentioned as the Bishop of Turov) and he devoted himself fully to spiritual writing. He composed a discourse on the yearly cycle of the Lord’s Feasts, but not all of them have been preserved. The works of Saint Cyril deserve a place beside the works of the holy Fathers in book collections. He was one of the first and finest theologians of Kievan Rus.


The most complete collection of works by Saint Cyril of Turov, published by Bishop Eugenius of Turov in 1880, includes:

Sermon on Palm Sunday, from Gospel accounts

Sermon on Holy Pascha on the Radiant Day of the Resurrection of Christ, from the prophetic accounts

Sermon on the Sunday after Pascha, on the Renewal of the Resurrection, on the Artos [loaf blessed on Pascha], and on Thomas Touching the Side of the Lord

Sermon on Taking down the Body of Christ and on the Myrrh-bearing Women, from the Gospel account, and in praise of Joseph on the Third Sunday After Pascha

Sermon on the Paralytic from Genesis and from the Gospel account, on the Fourth Sunday After Pascha

Sermon on the Blind man and the enmity of the Jews from the Gospel account, on the Fourth Sunday After Pascha

Sermon on the Ascension of the Lord, on Thursday of the Sixth Week After Pascha, from prophetic decrees, and on Raising the Race of Adam from Hades

Sermon on the Holy 318 Fathers, from the Holy Books, on Christ the Son of God, and in praise of the Fathers of the Holy Council of Nicea, on the Sunday Before Pentecost

Parable on the Blind and the Lame

Parable on the Human Soul, and on the Body, and on Breaking God’s Commandments, and on the Resurrection of the Human Body, and on the Future Judgment, and on the Torment

Narrative on the Black Clergy, from the Old Testament and from the New, bearing a common form, and the accomplishing of this matter

To Abbot Basil: a Parable on the White Clergy, and on Monasticism, and on the Soul, and on Repentance

Letter of a certain Elder to the Blessed Archimandrite Basil on the Schema

Four Prayers on Sunday (after Matins, Hours, and two after Vespers)

Four Prayers on Monday

Four Prayers on Tuesday

Five Prayers on Wednesday (after Matins, Hours, and three after Vespers)

Three Prayers on Thursday (after Matins, Hours, Vespers)

Four Prayers on Friday (after Matins, Hours, and two after Vespers)

Six Prayers on Saturday (two after Matins, one after Hours, and three after Vespers)

Molieben Canon

Confession and Remembrance.

Later, the “Sermon on the Illumination of our Lord Jesus Christ” was discovered. The Saint also composed a “Great Canon of Repentance to the Lord in Alphabetic Chapters.” As a theologian Saint Cyril believed his task was to discern the true and hidden meaning of various texts of Holy Scripture.


Saint Cyril died on April 28, 1183. His contemporaries regarded him as a Russian Chrysostom. The Saint humbly wrote of himself: “I am not a harvester, but I gather sheaves of grain; I am not an artist in literary matters.” He was always conscious of the sublime hierarchical service to which the Lord had called him: “If I were to speak of my own opinions, you would do well not to come to church, but I proclaim to you the word of God. I read to you the accounts of Christ. I present to you the words of God, finer than gold or other stones, sweeter than mead or honeycomb, and you would be deprived of them by not coming to church, ... but I praise and bless those of you who do come.”

According to Serge A. Zenkovsky's assessment of Cyril's heritage: "Cyril, Bishop of Turov, was probably the most accomplished master of Orthodox theology and the Byzantine style of writing. He had an excellent command of Greek and his literary achievements surpass those of any other Russian man of letters of that era ... Of all his works, Cyril's sermon with the triumphant description of spring as the symbol of the Resurrection was the most popular."

Notes:

* Cyril's title the "Bishop of Turov" is usually agreed to be a later invention arising out of a desire to designate an appropriately high status to the author of extremely popular and influential words. Even though Kirill came to be known as the Bishop of Turov his works deal most extensively with a theme of monasticism. It is often emphasized that Kirill's points of reference are located within the walls of the monastery. Monks are Kirill's most frequent addressees.


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