Abba Cyrus, patriarch of Alexandria -- or, Cyrus of Batna, Syriac church historian.
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Title:Abba Cyrus, patriarch of Alexandria -- or, Cyrus of Batna, Syriac church historian

Cyrus of Alexandria was a supporter and author (per the scribe's pen and table in the portrait) of Monothelistic views during the reign of Heraclius, the influential Byzantine emperor who died in 641. Heraclius' support of Monothelism, a compromise with the newly conquered eastern areas of Christendom, lasted only as long as his reign, as Pope Martin I called a Lateran Council in 649 to condemn Monothelism as heresy. The heresy supported the "one will" nature of Christ. It was practiced in North African and eastern Mediterranean churches, and joining those churches with the main Byzantine church was the aim of the adoption of the Monothelist viewpoint. The church where this fresco portrait appears, Santa Maria Antiqua, is the oldest Christian building in the Roman Forum area.

A second possibility for the identity of Abba Cyrus is Cyrus of Batna, a late 6th century church historian (hence the pen and writing table) who wrote Syriac biographies of Justin II and Tiberius II. The term "abba" is the Greek for "father" and was widely used in the Eastern and Coptic communities.

From The Yorck Project.

Date:ca. 641
Building:Santa Maria Antiqua (Church : Rome, Italy)

Person as Subject:Abba Cyrus, died 642
Cyrus, of Batna, 7th century
Library of Congress Subject:Christian art and symbolism

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Attribution:Abba Cyrus, patriarch of Alexandria -- or, Cyrus of Batna, Syriac church historian, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved February 27, 2021]. Original source:
Record Number:46580 Last Updated: 2021-02-24 18:15:51 Record Created: 2006-07-22 00:00:00
Institution:Vanderbilt University Unit: Collection: Art in the Christian Tradition