top of page

Saint Cyril VI: Our Patron Saint

st cyril man of prayer website tab_edited.jpg

St. Cyril VI was the 116th Pope and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark for approximately 12 years (May 10, 1959 to March 9, 1971). Although he spent very little time as patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, the spiritual strength the Church acquired during his papacy is continuously felt until this day … more than 50 years have elapsed since his papacy ended and his fatherly presence and warm compassion are witnessed and felt by Copts all over the world.

As shocking and unbelievable as this sounds, for most of his life as a monk and more so as a patriarch, St. Cyril VI was persecuted, rejected, ridiculed and humiliated by other monks, clergy, bishops and laypeople. He was also viciously slandered by Coptic newspapers. At times he was accused of sorcery due to his abundant miracles and his obsession with prayer was constantly criticized and ridiculed.  It is noted that during all this humiliation and attacks, St. Cyril VI kept silent allowing God to defend him keeping in mind the verse “hold your peace and the Lord will fight for you” (Exodus 14:14) thus assigning him with the title “Man Of Prayer.”
 

St. Cyril VI was born on August 8, 1902 in a city in Egypt called Damanhour and given the biological name of Azer Youssef Attia. Growing up in a large middle class family (having 2 brothers and 3 sisters), he loved attending Liturgical services on a daily basis and would attend these services at 6am before he began his work at 8am. His love for God grew as the years passed and he decided to devote and dedicate his life to God by becoming a monk in a monastery in the desert. He faced many challenges from his father and older brother on becoming a monk and with God’s grace and Azer’s prayers, both his father and brother agreed and blessed his vocation.

Azer entered in July 1927, at the age of 25 years old, Paromeos (also known as Baramos) Monastery in Wadi-Natrun (western desert of Egypt). He passed his probationary period and on February 24, 1928, he was ordained as a monk with the name of Fr. Mina El-Baramousy.  During his monastic years, Fr. Mina began to live a deep spiritual life seeking solitude whenever there was an opportune time and reading excerpts from St. Isaac the Syrian. Fr. Mina began to emulate the life of St. Isaac the Syrian memorizing passages from his book, Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian

Since Fr. Mina El-Baramousy was seeking solitude, he sought permission from the current Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria, HH Pope John XIX, to bless him to live in an old inhabited windmill in Old Cairo. The windmill became Fr. Mina’s new residence and it was designed as having a ground floor serving as a place to live and the upper level as a small chapel with an altar to pray daily Divine Liturgies.  This was the ultimate providence of God because during this time of living in the old windmill was the period in which Fr. Mina’s spirituality flourished with God’s grace. During this time Fr. Mina was discovered by many for his wisdom, silence, clairvoyance, and performing miracles for the sick, troubled, and distressed.  People would begin navigating to Fr. Mina asking him for his blessings and spiritual sound advice. Later on Fr. Mina El-Baramousy was assigned to be the Abbot of St. Samuel the Confessor Monastery renovating it and bringing vitality.  A rejuvenation of the monastic life began to flourish there with Fr. Mina's leadership and guidance.

 

After the departure of HH Pope Yousab (Joseph) II,  Fr. Mina El-Baramousy was chosen to be the next patriarch of the Coptic Church.  Thus on May 10, 1959, he was chosen to be the 116th Pope and Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church.  During his enthronement ceremony, he spoke these humble words:

"But as for you, I hope to open my heart to you that you might perceive the deep love for all therein; this is the love that emanates from the heart of our Savior who loved us and redeemed us with His Blood. And so, I beseech all of you to persist in raising prayers for the safety of the Church and for my weakness, and for all the laboring servants."

Pope Cyril VI’s papacy was remarkable for significant historical events:
+ Full authority over the Church’s financial and administrate decisions and lands belonging to monasteries was in the hands of laypeople (a council of notable laypersons with their own personal agendas).  This council fully controlled the Church in which they decided who becomes a priest or bishop or even patriarch and how lands belonging to monasteries were distributed. Through the prayers of St. Cyril VI and a genuine friendship with the Egyptian president at that time, Gamal Nasser, this council was fully dismantled and all their responsibilities were transferred to the Patriarch.

 

+ 1959: the Ethiopian Orthodox Church was granted complete independence from the Coptic Orthodox Church

 

+ November 1959: the foundation stone of St. Mina’s Monastery (located in Mariut Desert) was laid

+ April 2, 1968: St. Mary’s apparitions began in Zeitoun, Egypt which lasted approximately 3 years

 

+ June 22, 1968: St. Mark’s holy relics were received being sent from Venice, Italy to Alexandria, Egypt

 

St. Cyril VI departed to be with the Lord on March 9, 1971 after a short illness.  He was buried temporarily in St. Mark’s Cathedral but then transferred in November 1971 to St. Mina’s Monastery in Mariut Desert according to his will.
 

St. Cyril VI is a contemporary saint and all have witnessed some part of his life, whether directly or indirectly.  There is not one prayer that has not be answered by God through the prayers of St. Cyril VI. Many people have never met him or even heard his story but when asking for his prayers, miraculously their problems and troubles are resolved.
 

St. Cyril VI is loved by so many people, non Coptic Christians and even non Christians. This is why it was decided by the Holy Synod, led by HH Pope Tawadros II, to canonize St. Cyril VI on June 20, 2013, only 42 years after his departure.  Usually canonization is a long drawn process but because St. Cyril VI has had a very strong positive impact on the Coptic Church worldwide, it was unanimously decided to add St. Cyril VI to the cloud of witnesses.
 

After the departure of St. Cyril VI, his successor HH Pope Shenouda III of thrice blessed memory, spoke these words about him:

"There is no man in all the history of the church like Pope Cyril VI, who was able to pray so many liturgies. He prayed more than 12,000 liturgies. This matter never happened before in the history of the Popes of Alexandria or the world, or even among the monks. He was wondrous in his prayers.”

Please kindly note:
For more reading about St. Cyril VI, A Silent Patriarch by Fr. Daniel Fanous has a complete accurate biography of St. Cyril VI.

bottom of page