Ecclesial Memory and Secular History in the Conflicting Representations of Cyril of Alexandria: An Apology for the Saint

Mario Baghos
Associate Lecturer
St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College
& PhD Candidate, University of Sydney

Abstract: Drawing on Enlightenment depictions of Cyril of Alexandria as an unscrupulous thug, contemporary historiography has perpetuated a representation of the saint that has impacted popular culture. But there exists another depiction of the saint, reflected in a series of Byzantine historians who are usually overlooked, all of whom drew upon the ecclesial memory. This article revisits these witnesses and other traditional sources, engaging with the concepts of ‘history’ and ‘memory’ in order to show that, in contrast to secular portrayals, the latter have a privileged access to the truth in the case of St Cyril.