Cyril of Scythopolis, Life of Kyriakos of Souka (CPG 7538 = BHG 463)
Born in Corinth on 9 January 449, Kyriakos decides to become a monk and leaves for the Holy Land in 466. He first joins the monastery of Eustorgios at Holy Sion. He is tonsured by *Euthymios (the Great, S01352
) at this laura, but, due to his youth, he is assigned to the coenobium of *Gerasimos of the Jordan (S01507
). He joins Gerasimos and Euthymios in their ascetic retirement in the desert of Roubas. He attends the funeral of Euthymios (473) with Gerasimos who saw Euthymios’ soul being admitted into heaven. Gerasimos dies on 5 March 475. Kyriakos joins the laura of Euthymios and assists in building its coenobium. Cyril of Scythopolis visits Kyriakos several times and receives from him both advice concerning the conflict with the Origenists, and information about the life of Euthymios and Sabas. He lives at the locality of Sousakeim (the laura of Souka), with his disciple Ioannes, and performs various miracles. He dies in 556, at the age of 107.
Text: Schwartz 1939.
Summary: Efthymios Rizos.
Saint NameKyriakos, monk of the Monastery of Souka/Chariton, ob. 556 : S01625
Gerasimos, anchorite, founder of a monastery in the Judean desert, ob. 475. : S01507
Euthymios, abbot of Palestine, ob.473 : S01352
Saint Name in SourceΚυριακός
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Hagiographical - Lives
Evidence not before555
Evidence not after557
Activity not before555
Activity not after557
Place of Evidence - RegionPalestine with Sinai
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcNew Laura
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)New Laura
Major author/Major anonymous workCyril of Scythopolis
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsOral transmission of saint-related stories
Cult Activities - MiraclesMiracle during lifetime
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits
SourceBorn in Scythopolis in c. 525, Cyril was the son of a lawyer serving the bishopric of the city. He grew up in an environment closely linked to the clergy and monasteries of the Chalcedonian Orthodox community of Palestine. During a visit to Scythopolis in c. 531-2, Sabas the Sanctified blessed little Cyril and marked him out as a future monk. Cyril was indeed tonsured, and left for Jerusalem in 543. At the advice of John the Hesychast, he joined the monastery of Euthymios in the same year, where he stayed for ten years. He was chosen to join the 120 monks who reclaimed the New Laura for Orthodoxy, after the expulsion of the Origenists from it in 553. In 557, he was preparing to move to Sabas’ Great Laura, after which nothing is known about his life. All the information concerning Cyril's life is deduced from his writings.
Cyril’s only known work are the Lives of the Monks of Palestine (Μοναχικαὶ Ἱστορίαι), a collection of seven monastic biographies of uneven length. The most extensive and important works of this corpus are the lives of Euthymios and Sabas, founders of the two monasteries which defined Cyril’s own life as a monk. In the epilogue of the Life of Euthymios, the author informs us that he conceived the idea of the work, while living at the monastery of Euthymios and witnessing various miracles of that saint. In the early to mid 540s, he started collecting notes of stories which were orally recounted by older monks, but was only able to turn them into a coherent narrative when he moved to the New Laura (555-558).
The Life of Euthymios was apparently the first of these biographies to be composed, starting in c. 556, at the request of Georgios, abbot and founder of a monastery near Cyril’s native Scythopolis. The Life of Sabas was either slightly later, or roughly contemporary. The third major biography is the Life of Ioannes/John the Hesychast, Cyril’s personal mentor, which was written while its hero was still alive at the age of 104, in 557/558. The briefer Lives of Kyriakos, Theodosios, Theognios and Abraamios are probably the last to be written by the author. By including these figures, which were closely connected with Sabas and his monastery, Cyril produced a gallery of hagiographies of the main Chalcedonian monasteries of the Judaean Desert, which resembles and perhaps follows the model of Theodoret’s Religious History.
For the manuscript tradition of the texts, see:
DiscussionThe Life of Kyiriakos is one of the shorter Lives in Cyril's collection.
Schwartz, E., Kyrillos von Skythopolis (Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 49.2; Leipzig, 1939).
Baldelli, R., and Mortari, L., Storie monastiche del deserto di Gerusalemme (Abbazia di Praglia, 1990).
Festugière, A.-J., Les moines d'Orient, vol. 3, part 3, Les moines de Palestine: Vie des saints Jean l'hésychaste, Kyriakos, Théodose, Théognios, Abraamios (Paris, 1962).
Price, R., and Binns, J., Cyril of Scythopolis, Lives of the Monks of Palestine (Cistercian Studies Series 114; Kalamazoo, 1991).
Flusin, B., Miracle et histoire dans l'œuvre de Cyrille de Scythopolis (Paris, 1983).
Flusin, B., "Palestinian Hagiography (Fourth-Eighth Centuries)," in: S. Efthymiadis (ed.), The Ashgate Research Companion to Byzantine Hagiography I: Periods and Places (Farnham, 2011), 199-226.
Hombergen, D., The Second Origenist Controversy: A New Perspective on Cyril of Scythopolis' Monastic Biographies as Historical Sources for Sixth-Century Origenism (Rome, 2001).