St. Cyril of Alexandria



  1. Students should know who he was and what he did.
  2. Students should know the word, “Theotokos”, and what it means.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Read the story of St. Cyril of Alexandria:

Cyril was born in Alexandria in Egypt nearly 400 years after the time of Jesus. (Do you remember any other things that happened in Egypt? Joseph, Moses, etc.) His uncle was bishop of Alexandria. Cyril was not really a very nice boy – he like to fight and argue, even with his friends. But he loved the Lord and tried to serve God all his life.

When Cyril grew up, he became bishop, or “patriarch”, of Alexandria. The bishops of the five largest churches were often called patriarchs. Can you name these big cities of the ancient world? Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem. Can you say the word, “patriarch”?

There was, at the same time, in Antioch, a bishop named Nestorius who came up with a very upsetting new teaching. He decided that Mary could not really be the mother of God but only the mother of Christ, the man. Again, someone was trying to split Jesus up into two people, God and man. Who else had a false teaching along the same lines? (Arius) We call Mary “Theotokos”, meaning “mother of God”. But Nestorius wanted to call her “Christotokos” instead. The emperor called another big council of bishops, this time in the city of Ephesus. Cyril argued for Mary to be called “Theotokos” and Nestorius argued for “Christotokos”. But, after Cyril’s explanation, Nestorius agreed that Mary should be called “Theotokos”, as she is to this day. Can you say the word? Do you know what it means? Because of the faith of St. Cyril of Alexandria, we call Mary “Theotokos” and honor her as the mother of God.


Add St. Cyril to your timeline.


  1. True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

            Cyril was bishop of Alexandria.                     Cyril was bishop of Constantinople.

            Cyril believed Mary was Theotokos.              Nestorius believed that Mary was Theotokos

            Nestorius believed Mary was Christotokos.   Cyril believed Mary was Christotokos.

            Theotokos means “mother of God”.               Theotokos means some old lady.


  1. Discuss mothers: Let children share about their mothers. What characteristics does a mother have? What does she do for/with her children? Jesus was a baby and a child. What would Mary have done for Him? How do we honor our mothers? (e.g. Mother’s Day) Mary was even more – she was “Theotokos”.  Review the word and its meaning. How did she become the Mother of God? Review the story of the Annunciation; look at the picture in the Bible storybook. How did Elizabeth, her cousin, honor Mary? How should we honor Mary? Practice venerating an icon of Mary. Let each child bow and cross himself and kiss the icon.


  1. Make the icon of the Theotokos. See pattern next page. If you don’t want to do the three layers, you can use glitter glue for the halos and decorate paper plate as frame.


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, we worship You and honor Your mother, Mary, the Theotokos. Remind children to put the icon of the Theotokos in their icon corner this week; can they put flowers to honor her?