University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E01042: The fifth Mystagogic Catechesis, of the mid to late 4th c., ascribed to Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-387) or his successor John II (387-417), mentions a special invocation of the intercession of *Patriarchs, *Prophets, *Apostles, and *Martyrs during the Eucharist. Written in Greek at Jerusalem.

online resource
posted on 2016-01-02, 00:00 authored by erizos
Cyril of Jerusalem, Mystagogic Catechesis 5 (CPG 3586)

After the Eucharistic offering of bread and wine has been fulfilled, there follows a supplication: for peace in the churches and stability in the world; for the emperors, the army and allies; for the sick, the afflicted and anyone in need. Then there follows a commemoration of the saints, invoking their intercession, and a prayer for the dead, described as follows:

(9.) Εἶτα μνημονεύομεν καὶ τῶν κεκοιμημένων, πρῶτον πατριαρχῶν, προφητῶν, ἀποστόλων, μαρτύρων, ὅπως ὁ Θεὸς εὐχαῖς αὐτῶν καὶ πρεσβείαις προσδέξηται ἡμῶν τὴν δέησιν. Εἶτα καὶ ὑπὲρ τῶν κεκοιμημένων ἁγίων πατέρων καὶ ἐπισκόπων, καὶ πάντων ἁπλῶς τῶν ἡμῖν προκεκοιμημένων, μεγίστην ὄνησιν πιστεύοντες ἔσεσθαι ταῖς ψυχαῖς, ὑπὲρ ὧν ἡ δέησις ἀναφέρεται, τῆς ἁγίας καὶ φρικωδεστάτης προκειμένης θυσίας.

‘(9.) Then we commemorate also those who have fallen asleep. First of all, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that God may accept our supplication by their prayers and intercessions. Next (we pray) also for the holy fathers and bishops who have fallen asleep, and generally for all those who have fallen asleep before us, believing that the souls, for which our supplication is offered, will have immense benefit from the holy and most dread sacrifice present before us.’

Text: Paris and Piedagnel 1966
Translation: A. A. Stephenson (modified by E. Rizos)


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Apostles (unspecified) : S00084 Prophets (unspecified) : S00139 Patriarchs, Biblical (unspecified) : S00138 Anonymous martyrs : S00060

Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies Literary - Theological works


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Jerusalem Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Cyril of Jerusalem

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Liturgical invocation


Born in the 310s, Cyril was bishop of Jerusalem from c. 350 to his death in 386/7. He composed a sequence of catechetic sermons for the instruction of newly initiated Christians at various stages of their training for the Christian faith. The process of catechism culminated in a series of initiation rites celebrated at the shrine of the Holy Sepulchre during Holy Week and Easter. Some of these were witnessed and described by the Spanish pilgrim Egeria who seems to have attended catechetic sermons at the Anastasis in the 380s. The so-called Mystagogic Catecheses (on the Christian sacraments) are the five final sermons of this series, composed to be given during the initiation of the new Christians, as celebrated at the Easter Vigil. These texts explain in a simple way the rites through which the catechumens were progressing (pre-baptismal rite of ‘illumination’, baptism, chrismation, first communion, and first Eucharist). The 5th of these texts was meant to be given for the newly-baptised who attended their first full Eucharist. In Late Antiquity, catechumens were allowed to attend only the first part of the Eucharistic ceremony (readings, homily, and intercession). The second part (centring on the offering of bread and wine, and Holy Communion) was reserved to the baptised Christians only, and its details were kept secret to the catechumens until shortly before baptism. Our text explains the various parts of this rite to the newly-baptised, with special emphasis on the Lord’s Prayer which was also kept secret. The order of the service described suggests a version of the Eucharist without Institution Narrative. The authenticity of the Mystagogic Catecheses as a part of Cyril's catechetic sermons has been contested. It is possible that they were in fact a work of Cyril's successor John II (387-417), appended to Cyril's corpus of texts. (For further reading and bibliography, see Yarnold 2000 [esp. 3-49], and Paris and Peidagnel 1966; A. A. Stephenson in McCauley and Stephenson 1970, 143 ff.) On the manuscript tradition (22 copies), see:


The text quoted here is the first attestation of a special invocation of the intercession of the saints in the Eucharist. It outlines a set prayers offered after the sanctification of bread and wine, which consisted of three sections: a prayer for the whole Church and the world, a commemoration of the departed saints (patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs), and a commemoration of all departed Christians. The text introduces a distinction between the holy dead (biblical figures and martyrs) whose commemoration is made in order to solicit their intercession with God (i.e. they are asked to join in the prayers of the Church), and the rest of the dead whose commemoration is made for the repose of their souls (the Church prays for their benefit). Sections like this are known from the Greek liturgies.


Text, comments and French translation: Paris, P., and Piedagnel, A., Cyrille de Jérusalem. Catéchèses mystagogiques (Sources chrétiennes; Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1988), esp. 158-159. English Translations and commentaries: Yarnold, E., Cyril of Jerusalem (The Early Church Fathers; London, New York: Routledge, 2000). McCauley, L. P., and Stephenson, A. A., The Works of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem. Vol. 2 (The Fathers of the Church: a New Translation; Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1970), 143-203, esp. 197 (A. A. Stephenson).

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity