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March 18

Saint of the day:

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem

Patron Saint of Croatia

The Story of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem


"Make your fold with the sheep; flee from the wolves: depart not from the Church,"

Cyril admonished catechumens surrounded by heresy. These were prophetic words for Cyril was to be hounded by enemies and heretics for most of his life, and although they could exile him from his diocese he never left his beloved Church.

Cyril's life began a few years before Arianism (the heresy that Jesus was not divine or one in being with the Father) and he lived to see its suppression and condemnation at the end of his life. In between he was the victim of many of the power struggles that took place.

We know little about Cyril's early life. Historians estimate he was born about 315 and that he was brought up in Jerusalem. He speaks about the appearance of the sites of the Nativity and Holy Sepulchre before they were "improved" by human hands as if he were a witness. All we know of his family were that his parents were probably Christians and he seemed to care for them a great deal. He exhorted catechumens to honor parents "for however much we may repay them, yet we can never be to them what they as parents have been to us." We know he also had a sister and a nephew, Gelasius, who became a bishop and a saint.

He speaks as one who belonged to a group called the Solitaries. These were men who lived in their own houses in the cities but practiced a life of complete chastity, ascetism, and service.

After being ordained a deacon and then a priest, his bishop Saint Maximus respected him enough to put him in charge of the instruction of catechumens. We still have these catechetical lectures of Cyril's that were written down by someone in the congregation. When speaking of so many mysteries, Cyril anticipated the question, "But some one will say, If the Divine substance is incomprehensible, why then do you discourse of these things? So then, because I cannot drink up all the river, am I not even to take in moderation what is expedient for me? Because with eyes so constituted as mine I cannot take in all the sun, am I not even to look upon it enough to satisfy my wants? Or again, because I have entered into a great garden, and cannot eat all the supply of fruits, would you have me go away altogether hungry?.. I am attempting now to glorify the Lord, but not to describe him, knowing nevertheless that I shall fall short of glorifying God worthily, yet deeming it a work of piety even to attempt it at all."

When Maximus died, Cyril was consecrated as bishop of Jerusalem. Because he was supported by the Arian bishop of Caesarea, Acacius, the orthodox criticized the appointment and the Arians thought they had a friend. Both factions were wrong, but Cyril wound up in the middle.

When a famine hit Jerusalem, the poor turned to Cyril for help. Cyril, seeing the poor starving to death and having no money, sold some of the goods of the churches. This was something that other saints including Ambrose and Augustine had done and it probably saved many lives. There were rumors, however, that some of the vestments wound up as clothing for actors.

Actually, the initial cause of the falling out between Acacius and Cyril was territory not beliefs. As bishop of Caesarea, Acacia had authority over all the bishops of Palestine. Cyril argued that his authority did not include Jerusalem because Jerusalem was an "apostolic see" -- one of the original sees set up by the apostles. When Cyril did not appear at councils that Acacius called, Acacius accused him of selling church goods to raise money and had him banished.

Cyril stayed in Tarsus while waiting for an appeal. Constantius called a council where the appeal was supposed to take place. The council consisted of orthodox, Arians, and semi-Arian bishops. When Acacius and his faction saw that Cyril and other exiled orthodox bishops were attending, they demanded that the persecuted bishops leave. Acacius walked out when the demand was not met. The other bishops prevailed on Cyril and the others to give in to this point because they didn't want Acacius to have reason to deny the validity of the council. Acacius returned but left again for good when his creed was rejected -- and refused to come back even to give testimony against his enemy Cyril. The result of the council was the Acacius and the other Arian bishops were condemned. There's no final judgment on Cyril's case but it was probably thrown out when Acacius refused to testify and Cyril returned to Jerusalem.

This was not the end of Cyril's troubles because Acacius carried his story to the emperor -- embellishing it with details that it was a gift of the emperor's that was sold to a dancer who died wearing the robe. This brought about a new synodrun by Acacius who now had him banished again on the basis of what some bishops of Tarsus had done while Cyril was there.

This exile lasted until Julian became emperor and recalled all exiled bishops, orthodox or Arian. Some said this was to exacerbate tension in the Church and increase his imperial power. So Cyril returned to Jerusalem. When Acacius died, each faction nominated their own replacement for Caesarea. Cyril appointed his nephew Gelasius -- which may seem like nepotism, except that all orthodox sources spoke of Gelasius' holiness. A year later both Cyril and Gelasius were driven out of Palestine again as the new emperor's consul reversed Julian's ruling.

Eleven years later, Cyril was allowed to go back to find a Jerusalem destroyed by heresy and strife. He was never able to put things completely right. He did attend the Council at Constantinople in 381 where the Nicene Creed and orthodoxytriumphed and Arianism was finally condemned. Cyril received justice at the same Council who cleared him of all previous rumors and commended him for fighting "a good fight in various places against the Arians."

Cyril had eight years of peace in Jerusalem before he died in 386, at about seventy years old.








During the French revolution the relics of St Cyril were placed in safekeeping and eventually were lost. In the 1960s the Irish Dominican Fathers discovered a small fragment of the relics. Pope Paul VI personally placed this fragment in the Basilica di San Clemente in the hope

‘that the sacred relics of St Cyril might be a cause of union with the See of Rome.’



What to eat today:


Julishka Pie (Juliška Pita)
Puff pastry, cream, chocolate cake, cream, puff pastry 


Knedli – sweet potato dumplings:

Knedli are sweet round dumplings of potato dough that are stuffed with plums or apricots, rolled in breadcrumbs and topped with sugar. 

Knedli are pretty easy to make and they’re a wonderful treat. Even though they’re sweet, people sometimes eat them for lunch.


Pašticada is a beef stew that holds a special place in every home. It can be found at every local feast and wedding, and for good reason. This mouthwatering thick sweet sauce is a result of several days of marinating in vinegar, lemon and rosemary for a few days and is slow-cooked with carrots, red wine, cloves, nutmeg and prosciutto (pršut). It is usually served with a think but light as air pasta called gnocchi. 

Traditional Croatian Baked Strukli:

Strukli is a flaky pastry that is stuffed with cheeses. This is total comfort food. It is versital where it can be sweet or savory. Sometimes even stuffed with fruit like peaches or blueberries.



Croatian Easter Bread, Sirnica
Sirnica is a traditional Croatian buttery sweet bread made during the Easter period. At this time of year, you can find it in most bakeries and supermarkets across Dalmatia. Typically, a cross is cut into the top of the dough before it is baked – for obvious reasons. Traditionally Sirnica has crushed sugar cubes scatter top, but thanks to not having seen sugar cubes in decades, we've dusted the top with the powdered stuff.

Top your Sirnica with powdered sugar in a fern pattern, or something pretty, if you don't have crushed sugar cubes. Happy Easter!


  • 25 g yeast

  • 3 tbsp warm milk

  • 4 egg yolks

  • 100 g sugar

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla sugar

  • 60g soft unsalted butter

  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil

  • pinch of salt

  • zest of 1/2 lemon

  • zest of 1 orange

  • 3 tbsp rum

  • 400 g sifted all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/4 cups milk

  • 1 egg lightly beaten

  • 3 cubes of sugar 


  1. Place the yeast in a bowl and add the 3 tbsp of warm milk, a tsp of sugar and a tsp of flour.

  2. Allow the yeast to do its magic and get foamy.

  3. In another bowl add the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla sugar, and butter and beat until it thickens and then add the sunflower oil and gently mix to combine. 

  4. Now add the foamy yeast mixture, lemon and orange zest, rum, salt and flour and milk and start kneading. You need to get a soft – medium dough.

  5. Cover the dough and allow to rise for about an hour.

  6. Form 4 smaller round shaped pieces of dough, place them on a baking tray and allow to rise again until they double in size. Make sure they aren’t too close together, you don’t want them touching.

  7. Pre-heat your oven to 160 degree’s celsius. 

  8. Once risen, with a sharp knife make a cross-like incision on top of each of the pieces of dough and brush with the beaten egg.

  9. Break up the sugar cubes so they become chunky coarse pieces of sugar and sprinkle on top of each of the Sirnica’s.

  10. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

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