Cyril of Scythopolis (Greek: Κύριλλος ὁ Σκυθοπολίτης, romanizedKyrillos ho Skythopolitēs; c. 525c. 559), also known as Cyrillus Scythopolitanus, was a Christian monk, priest and Greek-language hagiographer or historian of monastic life in Palestine in the early years of Christianity (6th century CE).


Cyril was born in Scythopolis, in the province of Palaestina Secunda, sometime around 525.[1] His father John, a lawyer, supervised his early religious education.[1] Shortly after 532 he became an anagnostes (lector), and became a monk in 543.[1] Very soon thereafter he went to Jerusalem and spent some months at a hermit community (lavra) near the Jordan River, before entering the monastery of Euthymius the Great at Jericho in 544.[1] He remained there until 555, when he was one of the orthodox monks sent to replace those expelled for Origenism at the New Lavra of Saint Sabas (today in ruins at Bir el-Wa'ar near Tekoah). Two years later he moved to the Great Lavra of Saint Sabas (today known as Mar Saba), where he died sometime in 557/558 or soon after.[1][2]

Cyril was influenced by Saint Sabas the Sanctified, whom he had met when he was still in a young age; in later years, when he was in Jerusalem, he also met Saint John the Silent, bishop of Colonia in Cappadocia.[1]


Cyril is known for a number of hagiographies of seven Palestinian monks: Sabas the Sanctified, Euthymius the Great, John the Silent, Cyriacus the Anchorite, Theodosius the Cenobiarch, Theognius, and Abramius.[1][2][3] This ambitious undertaking was "fostered both by local patriotism and a firm belief in the relationship between holiness and the desert".[1] As the historical information included in these works is both precise and accurate, Cyril is a valuable historical source for the period, on topics ranging from political affairs to ecclesiastical events and biographical details.[1] Cyril is particularly valuable on the study of the Arab tribes of the region, notably the Ghassanids and their rivals, the Lakhmids.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Baldwin & Talbot 1991, p. 573
  2. ^ a b Frank 1991.
  3. ^ Eduard Schwartz (ed.), Kyrillos von Skythopolis, Leipzig: J. C. Heinrichs Verlag, 1939 (Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 4. Reihe 4. Band 2. Heft = 49. Band, 2. Heft).
  4. ^ Shahîd 1995, pp. xxiii–xxiv, 17, 182.