Feast of St Isaurus the Holy Martyr & His Companions of Athens
I SEE THE assembly of the saints, all zealously gathered together, invited by the holy Mother of God, Mary, ever-virgin. I was feeling very sad, but then the presence of the holy Fathers changed this sorrow into merriment. Now the sweet words of the hymnographer David have been fulfilled in our presence: “Behold how fair, and how pleasant it is, when brothers dwell together as one!” (Ps. 133.1). Hail, we say, O holy and mystic Trinity, who have called us together in this church dedicated to Mary, Mother of God. We hail you, O Mary Mother of God, venerable treasure of the entire world, inextinguishable lamp, crown of virginity, scepter of orthodoxy, imperishable temple, container of Him who cannot be contained, Mother and Virgin, through whom it is said in the holy Gospels: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Mt. 21.9).
Hail, you who held the Uncontainable One in your holy and virginal womb! Through you, the Holy Trinity is glorified; the precious Cross is celebrated and adorned throughout the world; heaven exults, the angels and archangels rejoice, the demons are put to flight, the devil, the tempter, falls from heaven, the fallen creation is brought back to paradise, all creatures trapped in idolatry come to know the truth.
Through you, holy baptism and the oil of gladness are administered to believers; through you, churches are established throughout the world; the peoples are led to conversion. What more shall I say? Through you, the only begotten Son of God shone forth as a light upon those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death. Through you, the prophets made their predictions, and the apostles preached salvation to the nations; through you the dead rise, sovereigns reign, and through you the Holy Trinity reigns.
But who among men is capable of celebrating Mary most glorious? The virginal womb: such a great wonder! This miracle has me enraptured. When has it ever been heard that a builder was prevented from dwelling in a temple that he built himself? Could He, who calls His own handmaid to be His Mother, be considered deserving of shame? Behold, now: the whole universe is rejoicing. The sea obeyed, recognizing in the fathers its fellow servants. For while the water surged in stormy billows, the passage of the saints made it smooth and calm. The creature water remembered the voice of the Savior: “Silence! Be still” (Mk. 4.39). The passage of the fathers also subdued the earth, which previously had been infested with brigands. “How beautiful the feet of those who preach the good news of peace” (Rom. 10.15). But what peace is this? Jesus, our Lord, who was born from Mary, as He Himself willed.
—St Cyril of Alexandria, Homily Preached at Ephesus against Nestorius