About the end of 350 AD he succeeded Maximus as Bishop of Jerusalem, but was exiled on more than one occasion due to the enmity of Acacius of Caesarea, and the policies of various emperors. Cyril left important writings documenting the instruction of catechumens and the order of the Liturgy in his day.
Little is known of his life before he became a bishop; the assignment of his birth to the year 315 rests on conjecture. According to Butler, Cyril was born at or near the city of Jerusalem, and was apparently well-read in both the Church fathers and the pagan philosophers.
Cyril was ordained a deacon by Bishop St. Macarius of Jerusalem in about 335 and a priest some eight years later by Bishop St. Maximus. About the end of 350 he succeeded St. Maximus in the See of Jerusalem.
Relations between Metropolitan Acacius of Caesarea and Cyril became strained. Acacius is presented as a leading Arian by the orthodox historians, and his opposition to Cyril in the 350s is attributed by these writers to this. Sozomen also suggests that the tension may have been increased by Acacius's jealousy of the importance assigned to St. Cyril's See by the Council of Nicaea, as well as by the threat posed to Caesarea by the rising influence of the seat of Jerusalem as it developed into the prime Christian holy place and became a centre of pilgrimage.
Acacius charged Cyril with selling church property. The city of Jerusalem had suffered drastic food shortages at which point church historians Sozomen and Theodoret report “Cyril secretly sold sacramental ornaments of the church and a valuable holy robe, fashioned with gold thread that the emperor Constantine had once donated for the bishop to wear when he performed the rite of Baptism”. It was believed that Cyril sold some plate, ornaments and imperial gifts to keep his people from starving.