Saint Athanasius the Great was born in AD 295 to poor and virtuous parents, who could not give him a fine secular education. However, God endowed him with many spiritual gifts.
From a very young age, he showed his inclination towards the Church. At the age of 25, he was ordained a deacon by Patriarch Alexander of Alexandria, whom he accompanied to the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He was the main actor in the condemnation of the heterodoxy of Arius.
At the age of 33, he was elected Patriarch of Alexandria in AD 328. During his patriarchal ministry, he was fiercely attacked by the heretical followers of Arius. However, thanks to his spirituality and fervent faith in God, Athanasius managed to emerge victorious from all these trials even from the five exiles imposed on him, as Emperor Constantine II was a follower of Arianism. He reposed in the Lord in peace in AD 373.
Saint Cyril was born in Alexandria in AD 370 to wealthy parents of the Greek community of the city. He lived during the reign of Theodosius the Younger. Cyril, nephew Theophilus of the Archbishop of Alexandria, received theological education and became the successor of his uncle to the patriarchal throne of the Church of Alexandria.
When the Third Ecumenical Council took place in Ephesus in AD 431, Cyril was the president, and he vehemently opposed to the heterodoxy of Nestorius regarding his teaching on the face of the Virgin Mary.
He fell asleep in the Lord on June 9 in AD 444 remaining at the patriarchal throne for about 32 years. Saint Anastasios of Sinai rightly called him the “seal of the Fathers”.
The Church celebrates the two feasts on January 18: the memory of its two Great Fathers and Archbishops of Alexandria, Athanasius the Great, the pioneer against Arianism, and St. Cyril, the pioneer against Nestorianism.