The Great Saint Pope Kyrillos VI
Model for the Spiritual Life
Brief Outline of His Life
• Born Azer Youssef Atta on August
2(?), 1902 in Damanhour
• Grew up in a very pious Christian
home – during his childhood the
evidence of a spiritual person were
evident in his love for the church
and his behavior
• In July 1927, he entered into the
monastery of El-Baramous
• Stayed as a novice until February
of 1928 when he was tonsured a
monk and given the name Monk
Mina El-Baramousy, then ordained
a priest in July 1931.
Brief Outline of His Life
• Escaped ordination to the Episcopate
by fleeing to the monastery of St.
Shenouda in Sohag but when he
returned at the request of the Pope he
pleaded his case to be a solitary and
his wish was granted.
• He lived as a solitary in a cave that
was approximately one hours-walking
distance from the monastery (ElBaramous).
Brief Outline of His Life
• In 1936 he continued to live as a
solitary but in an old abandoned
wind mill in Old Cairo until 1941
where he was appointed as the
abbot of the Monastery of St.
Samuel the Confessor in ElKalamun near Maghaga (this is the
monastery of St. Andrewes and
many other holy men). He was
successful in renovating and
improving the conditions of this
Brief Outline of His Life
• In 1947 he moved to Old Cairo where
he built the Church of St. Mina his
beloved saint. During this time many
university students (whose homes were
outside Cairo) surrounded him so he
established a dormitory for them and
attended to their spiritual needs. Many
of these students became priests, monks
and bishops including H.H. Pope
Shenouda III.
• In May 1959 he was chosen to be Pope
and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark
under the name Kyrillos VI.
Brief Outline of His Life
• During his life as Patriarch the Church witnessed
many great things:
† The monastery of St. Mina in Mariut
† Processed the Holy Myron for only the 26th time
in Coptic Church history.
† Renovation of St. Mark’s cathedral in Cairo.
† The unprecedented apparition of the Holy Mother
of God over the Church in Zeitoun.
† The return of the relics of St. Mark the Apostle to
† Liturgical revival in the Coptic Church
† Spiritual revival in the Coptic Church.
Brief Outline of His Life
• Departed this world
March 9, 1971
• His miracles continue to
be documented in over
fifteen separate volumes
in Arabic and slowly are
being translated into
English and other
Spiritual Gifts
† Miracles
† Clairvoyance
† “Spirit-Borne”
Although one cannot study the life of this Holy Saint
without noting the thousands of miracles granted
through his prayers and his blessed life, let us defer
this to another time and study his virtues to see how
we can benefit in our own lives.
Model for the Spiritual Life
In the life of this great saint we find a school of
virtues and a complete picture of how one can be in
perfect communion with God while in this world. He
is a true witness in the 20th century that God is still
working in his saints. Although there is too much to
discuss to even gain a glimpse into the life of this
hero, let us look at a few of his virtues, namely:
– Humility
– Life of Prayer/Asceticism
– Love/Service
“Let us disappear that God may be
manifested in His glory” (First Papal
Epistle of Pope Kyrillos VI)
“If I, your Lord and Teacher have
washed your feet, you also ought to
wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14)
His Grace Bishop Mina El-Samueli
said, “Father Mina considered everyone
better than himself.”
• His Grace Metropolitan Athanasius of Beni Suef said
that once he gave a sermon in the Cathedral when the
Pope was present. After the sermon the Pope gently
admonished him saying, “Brother, why do you yell at,
and order the people as you instruct them...Who
knows who is better than whom…”
• One of Pope Kyrillos’ relatives said that when Fr.
Mina lived in St. Mina’s Church in Old Cairo with
other monks and novices, he used to assign them
work to do. However, he kept to himself the chore of
cleaning the washrooms without letting anyone notice
it. He never assigned this job to a hired hand or
anyone else.
• Fr. Raphael Ava Mina, the private
deacon to the Pope, on many
occasions would forget that the
Pope had requested a cup of tea,
for example. After an hour or so
he would remember but would
then be too embarrassed to go to
him. When one of the other
workers went to the Pope, the
pope would ask him about the tea
but the worker would respond
that “Raphael has not requested
anything from me” The Pope
would reply, “Never mind my
son, Raphael works so hard, he
gets tired, God help him”.
• Many people tried to convince the
Pope (including a delegate from the
Vatican) to refurnish and repaint his
residence at the Patriarchate to suit the
level of a pope and he would respond,
“It is still better than the manger in
which our Savior Jesus Christ was
• Fr. Raphael also said this: “I often
heard him (the Pope) abasing himself
saying, ‘the boy became a patriarch’
and if he asked for something and
found many people responding to his
request he would say, ‘his shirt is at
his knees and ten are at his service’ or
‘he is still in grade school and the
world is waiting on him’”
1. In the life of Pope Kyrillos we see humility has two
sides, the positive and the negative, what are they?
Has our view only been one-sided?
2. Why is it that the Scriptures and the Fathers speak
of humility as the most essential virtue and key to
communion with God? How is this shown in the
life of Pope Kyrillos?
3. What are some ways we can practice humility based
on the example of Pope Kyrillos?
Life of Prayer
Fr. Raphael says this about the
Pope’s prayer life: “His Holiness
prayed unceasingly. He never
stopped praising God, either in his
cell, during meetings, while
walking, or even while eating. He
was always lifting up his heart and
all his senses as he sang psalms.
Prayer was his source of comfort
and the tool for solving difficult
problems. He spent prolonged
periods of time alone in his cell
just in prayer. The pope’s life was
always full of prayer, and
eventually prayer became his life”
Life of Prayer
• Bishop Mina El-Samueli says this about Fr. Mina the
Hermit when he was in the windmill: “Fr. Mina used
to wake up at 2 a.m., start the midnight agpeya
prayers, do the praise service (tesbeha), bake the
‘korban’, raise the morning incense, then serve the
holy liturgy which would end around 8 a.m.…in the
evening after fasting all day he would raise the
vespers incense. During the night he would make
praises for several saints”
Life of Prayer
• As Pope, Fr. Raphael said this: “Pope Kyrillos started
his day at 3 a.m., no matter how late he went to bed
the night before. He would wake up for midnight
prayers, and then go to the church for the raising of
incense before the divine liturgy...he used to pray
with a low voice, bowed head, and closed eyes…
with fear and respect. He never allowed himself to
lean against the altar nor to talk with anyone during
the liturgy. While praying he used to shed many
tears…we deacons found ourselves shedding many
tears with him”
Life of Prayer
• “His Holiness was also committed
to the Prayers of Raising Incense
which he said every morning and
evening…he insisted on raising
incense by himself. When a young
priest monk offered to raise the
incense for him, as was the
practice of some bishops, the Pope
told him, “And why can I not raise
the incense? Are we not all raising
it to the glory of God? There is no
great or small person in the eyes of
God. We are all the same in front
of him”
Life of Prayer
1. Given the extremely busy schedule of a Pope, what
does the prayer life of Pope Kyrillos teach us?
2. What does Pope Kyrillos’ emphasis on the
Eucharist and the traditional prayers of the Church
show us?
3. What is the goal of prayer as manifested in the
Pope’s life?
4. Based on the life of Pope Kyrillos what are some
ways we can deepen our prayer life?
Fr. Raphael tells these incidents:
• “Once when the Pope was residing at St. Mina’s
monastery, some families came to visit him. Before
they left, His Holiness ordered food for them. Shortly
after, he asked me to bring his own dinner to the
children. I explained that we already took care of
their food, but he insisted. So, I took the food and
gave it to them, and he remained without food”.
• “On many occasions the Pope would see an elderly
gentleman who needed a blessing but could not reach
him because of the crowd. The Pope would then go to
him and pray for him”.
• “One day H.H. heard the that one of the
deacons criticized the way a priest
chanted the mass. He had said that the
priest’s hymns barely had a tune. The
Pope wanted to gently reform the
deacon’s behavior. He did so at a
Divine Liturgy attended by the priest
and that deacon. He said to the deacon,
‘Do you hear how Abouna is praying?
The prayers are coming from his heart.
If two or three people like him existed
in this world, God would have turned
away his wrath’. The deacon was
embarrassed and asked the Pope for his
• “One day H.H. had finished the Divine Liturgy, and
had not yet eaten breakfast. A large number of visitors
arrived asking for his blessings. When he asked me
about the number of visitors, I told him there were too
many. I noticed that the Pope looked tired and I
beseeched him to quickly dismiss them. The Pope
looked right at me and asked sharply, ‘What do you
mean?!’ I felt ashamed of my conduct. He then asked
me to invite the visitors in and he had long
conversations with them. The visits were not over until
late afternoon…In order to draw my attention to my
mistake, H.H. said ‘If I had listened to you I would not
have been that late for breakfast’…I left H.H.
weeping. I was touched by his great compassion and
love for his flock. Moreover, H.H. would ask me,
before going to his room to rest, to check that there
were no more visitors waiting on the ground floor.”
Based on the example of Pope Kyrillos, what is the
relationship between love and service? Love and
How did the Pope deal with hearing negative things
about others?
What are some practical ways we can emulate the
love of this great saint?
Final thoughts:
In addition to what we have
discussed above, it is impossible to
forget the Pope’s intimate
relationship with the Mother of God
and the saints, especially St. Mina
the Wonderworker, whom he use to
converse with and see regularly.
His life is a witness to the close
communion that exists between the
church militant and the church
O Lord, through the prayers of your
beloved saint Pope Kyrillos VI,
have mercy on us and forgive us our

The Great Saint Pope Kyrillos VI