Mary as Mediatrix in Church Fathers (Saint Cyril)

by Taylor Marshall


Below is an except from a sermon by Saint Cyril of Alexandria at the Council of Ephesus (Third Ecumenical Council) in A.D. 431. This authenticity of the sermon was once contested by Protestant scholars, since it contains profound devotion to Mary and depictions of Marian mediation. However, Robert Caro has recently demonstrated that the sermon is undoubtedly authentic (R. Caro, La Homiletica, II, 269-283).

Here is the portion of the homily that is particularly interesting and it gives a sense of the Marian devotion that the Council Fathers held at the Council of Ephesus. From the homily of Saint Cyril:


"Hail Mary Theotokos{Mother of God}, venerable treasure of the whole world, light unextinguished, crown of virginity, scepter of orthodoxy, indestructible temple, which contains the is through you that the Holy Trinity is glorified and adored, through you, the precious cross is venerated and adored throughout the whole world, through you that heaven is in gladness, that angels and archangels rejoice, that demons are put to flight, through you that the tempter, the devil is cast down from heaven, through you that the fallen creature is raised up to heaven, through you that all creation, once imprisoned in idolatry, has reached knowledge of the truth, that the faithful obtain baptism and the oil of joy, churches have been founded in the whole world, that peoples are led to conversion."

St Cyril of Alexandria, Hom. IV Ephesi in Nestorium, Patrologia Graeca 77, 992, BC; Acta Conciliorum Oecumenicorum


These words of Cyril summarize the doctrine that Mary is the Mediatrix of All Graces. Note how he states that "through you the Holy Trinity is glorified," and "through you the faithful obtain baptism."

Saint Cyril is wading deep into Marian hyper-dulia. And this the early years of A.D. 431.

A question for the Protestant readers: If you heard Saint Cyril, the great defender of Christ, preach this sermon, would you rejoice and say "Amen" or would you walk out?

The way you answer this question will reveal whether you conform to the early Church or not.