Moreover, his dedication during the time of a great plague and famine gained him still further popular support. Cyprian comforted his brethren by writing his De mortalitate, and in his De eleemosynis exhorted them to active charity towards the poor, setting a personal example. He defended Christianity and the Christians in the apologia Ad Demetrianum, directed against a certain Demetrius, in which he countered pagan claims that Christians were the cause of the public calamities.
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In Africa Cyprian courageously prepared his people for the expected edict of persecution by his De exhortatione martyrii, and himself set an example when he was brought before the Roman proconsul Aspasius Paternus August 30, The proconsul banished him to Curubis, modern Korba , whence, to the best of his ability, he comforted his flock and his banished clergy. In a vision he saw his approaching fate. When a year had passed he was recalled and kept practically a prisoner in his own villa, in expectation of severe measures after a new and more stringent imperial edict arrived, and which Christian writers subsequently claimed demanded the execution of all Christian clerics.
On September 13, , Cyprian was imprisoned on the orders of the new proconsul , Galerius Maximus. The public examination of Cyprian by Galerius Maximus, on 14 September has been preserved: The execution was carried out at once in an open place near the city. A vast multitude followed Cyprian on his last journey.
He removed his garments without assistance, knelt down, and prayed. After he blindfolded himself, he was beheaded by the sword. The body was interred by Christians near the place of execution. Cyprian's works were edited in volumes 3 and 4 of the Patrologia Latina. He was not a speculative theologian, his writings being always related to his pastoral ministry.
Another important work is his Treatise on the Lord's Prayer. The following works are of doubtful authenticity: The treatise entitled De duplici martyrio ad Fortunatum and attributed to Cyprian was not only published by Erasmus , but probably also composed by him. It is possible that his "Citation," was the only text written by him, a prayer for the help of angels against demonic attacks. Doubtless only part of his written output has survived, and this must apply especially to his correspondence, of which some sixty letters are extant, in addition to some of the letters he received.
Cyprian of Carthage is often confused with Cyprian of Antioch , reputedly a magician before his conversion. A number of grimoires , such as Libellus Magicus are mistakenly attributed to the former. Cyprian which details the saint's early life, his conversion, notable acts, and martyrdom under Valerian. Churches were afterward erected over his tomb and over the place of his death, In later centuries, however, these churches were destroyed by the Vandals.
The graves of such saints as Cyprian and Martin of Tours came to be regarded as "contact points between Heaven and Earth", and they became the centres of new, redefined, Christian urban communities. Augustine on Cyprian's feast day indicates that his following was fairly widespread throughout Africa by the fourth century. Cornelius on September Anglicans celebrate his feast usually either on September 13 e.
The Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates him on August From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Saint Cyprian of Carthage. This article is about the bishop of Carthage. For other Cyprians, see Cyprian disambiguation. This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. Catholic Book Publishing Company, Cyprian of Carthage ". HarperCollins Publishers, , p. The Rise of Christianity. Saints of the Catholic Church. Matthew Mark Luke John. Military saints Virtuous pagan. Catholicism portal Saints portal. History of Catholic theology. Constantine to Pope Gregory I.
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Rome "Patriarch of the West": Alexandria suppressed in Antioch suppressed in Constantinople suppressed in West Indies vacant from Aquileia suppressed in Grado transferred to Venice in Ecclesiastical Latin Latin Mass. It has to be added, that you too are longing to hear much, or, if possible, the whole concerning him, having a burning desire at least to know his deeds, though his word of mouth be silent. Eloquence itself fails of the means of fully satisfying your longing. Thus we are sorely pressed on either side; by the weight of his excellences, by the importunity of your entreaties.
From what shall I commence? He might have employments before it, and a heart engaged and imbued with liberal arts; still I pass over all this, as up to this date tending merely to advantage of this life [ Note 3 ]. But after he had learned sacred knowledge and had emerged out of the clouds of this world into the light of spiritual wisdom, whatever I was witness to, whatever I have discovered of his preferable works, I will relate; with the request that those deficiencies of my narrative, which I feel will occur, should be charged upon my ignorance rather than on his fame.
While he was yet in the rudiments of his faith [ i. Who has ever recorded such a marvel? Diverting his property to the maintenance of the indigent, and distributing whole estates in money, he secured two benefits at once, both renouncing the pursuit of this world, than which nothing is more pernicious, and observing mercy;—mercy, which God has preferred even to His sacrifices, in which even he failed who said that he had kept all the commandments of the law, and by which with an anticipating haste of piety [vid.
Who, let me ask, of the ancients, has done this? No one reaps as soon as he has sowed. None treads out the vintage from a young plantation. None yet ever sought ripe fruit of bushes freshly planted. In him all things incredible met together. In him the threshing anticipated, if it can be said, for the thing surpasses belief, anticipated, I say, the sowing; the vintage the tendril; the fruit, the firm root.
The Epistle of the Apostle [1 Tim. He was the first, and, I suppose, the sole instance, that greater progress is made by faith than by time. That Eunuch indeed in the Acts of the Apostles is described as being baptized at once by Philip, because he believed with his whole heart; but the parallel does not hold.
For the one was both a Jew, and in his way from the Lord's Temple was reading the Prophet Isaiah, and had hope in Christ, though he thought Him not yet come; the other, coming of the unlearned heathen, had as ripe a faith at first, as few perhaps have at last. In a word, there was no delay in his case as to the grace of God [i. I have said too little: Who indeed would not commit all the ranks of honour to such a mind believing?
Many are the things he did when yet a layman, many when a Presbyter, many after the example of just men of old, with a close imitation, earning of the Lord, and surrendering himself to all the duties of religion. And whenever he read of any one who had been mentioned with praise by God, this was his ordinary advice, that we should inquire on account of what deeds he had pleased God.
If Job, glorious by the testimony of God, is called a true worshipper of God, one to whom no one might be compared on earth, he taught that "one ought to do whatever Job had done before; that, while we too do the same, we may obtain the same testimony of God upon ourselves. Job, despising the ruin of his estate, was so strong in practised virtue, as not to feel even temporal losses of his benevolence.
Penury broke him not, nor grief, neither his wife's prayers, nor his bodily sufferings shook his resolution. Virtue remained fixed in her own home; and resignation established upon deep foundations, was moved by no assault of the devil who tempted, from blessing his Lord with a thankful faith even amid adversity. His house was open to any one who came. No widow returned with her lap empty; nor blind, but was guided by him as a companion; nor feeble in step, but was lifted by him as by a carrier; nor helpless under the hand of the powerful, but had him for a champion. It were long to go through details; it were a toil to enumerate his holy deeds.
For evidence of his good works, I suppose this is enough, that by the judgment of God and the good will of the people, he was chosen for the office of the Priesthood, and the rank of the Episcopate, while yet a neophyte, and, as was considered, a novice [ Note 8 ]. Although still in the first days of his faith, and in the rudimental season of his spiritual life, in such sort did his noble disposition shine out, that, resplendent in the brightness at least of hope, though not of office, he promised a full performance of the duties of the priesthood, which was coming on him.
Nor will I pass over that special circumstance, how, while the whole people, God influencing, poured itself out in love and honour of him, he on the other hand humbly withdrew himself, yielding to older men, and deeming himself unworthy of the title of such honour, whereby he became the more worthy. For he is but made more worthy, who declines what he deserves.
CHURCH FATHERS: Life and Passion of St. Cyprian (Pontius)
With such emotion was the excited people at that time agitated, longing with spiritual desire, as the event proves, not a Bishop merely; but in him who had hid himself, and whom it was by a divine presage so demanding, seeking, not a Priest only, but a Martyr to come. A numerous brotherhood had beset the doors of his house; solicitous love poured itself around all the approaches. What befel the Apostle might then perhaps have been granted to him, as he wished it, to be let down through a window; had he already shared with the Apostle the honour of ordination.
I say it unwillingly, but I must say it. Some resisted him [ Note 9 ], even that he might obtain his wish. Whom however, how forbearingly, how patiently, how kindly he bore with! How henceforth he bore himself, who would suffice to relate! Such sanctity and grace shone forth from his countenance as to confuse the gazer. His look was grave and glad; neither a sternness which was sad, nor overmuch good nature; but a just mixture of both; so that one might doubt whether he claimed more our reverence or our love, except that he claimed both.
Nor did his dress belie his countenance, subdued, as it was, to the middle course. He was not the man to be inflated with the pride of the world's fashions; yet neither to grovel in a studious penury; in that the latter style of dress is as boastful, as that so ambitious frugality is ostentatious. How, when a Bishop, he acted towards the poor, whom he already loved as a catechumen, let the priests of mercifulness consider; whether taught in the office of good works by the discipline of their very order, or obliged to the duty of love by the general bond of the Gospel Sacrament.
As for Cyprian, what he was, such his Bishop's seat found him ready made, and did not make him. And so it was that for such merits he forthwith obtained also the glory of proscription.
Nor was it other than fitting that one, who within the retreat of conscience so abounded in the full honours of religion and faith, should also have a public name among the Gentiles. For imagine him taken hence at that time [vid. Well surely it was ordered then, well and indeed divinely, that a man so necessary for so many and so good objects, was retarded from a Martyr's consummation [ Note 11 ].
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But in truth, fear it was, but right fear; fear of offending the Lord, fear which had rather be dutiful to God's precepts, than be crowned together with the breach of them. A mind surrendered in all things to God, and a faith enslaved to the divine directions, considered that it would be sinning in very suffering, unless it had obeyed the Lord who then ordered that retreat. Something more must here be said on the advantage of the postponement, though already I have touched on the subject.
By what seems shortly to have taken place, we may prove, as follows, that that retirement did not issue from human pusillanimity, but, as is the case, was really divine. The people of God had been ravaged with the extraordinary and fierce assaults of a harrassing persecution; and, whereas the crafty enemy could not deceive all by one and the same artifice, therefore raging against them in manifold ways, wherever the incautious soldier exposed his side, there he worsted each by various overthrows.
Some one was required who, when wounds had been received, and darts cast by the changeful art of the torturing enemy, had heavenly remedies at hand according to the nature of each, now to pierce and now to sooth; and then was preserved a man of a mind beyond all others divinely tempered, to steer the Church in a steady middle course between the rebounding waves of colliding schisms. Let me ask then, is not such design divine?
Let them look to it who think that such things happen by chance. The Church answers to them with loud voice, declaring that she does not allow, does not believe, that these her necessary champions are reserved without the providence of God. However, let me be allowed to run through the rest. There was a general panic, flight, shrinking from the infection, unnatural exposure of infected friends; as though to carry the dying out of doors, were to rid one's self of death itself. Meanwhile multitudes lay about the whole city, not bodies, but by this time corpses; and called on the pity of passers-by from the view of a fortune common to both parties.
No one looked to aught beyond his cruel gain. No one was alarmed from the recollection of parallel instances. No one did to another what he wished done to himself.
It were a crime to pass over what in such circumstances was the conduct of this Pontiff of Christ and God, who had surpassed the Pontiffs of this world as much in benevolence as in truth of doctrine. First he assembled the people in one place, urged on them the excellence of mercifulness, taught them by instances from holy Scripture how much the offices of benevolence avail to merit with God. Then he subjoined that there was nothing wonderful in cherishing our own with the fitting dutifulness of charity; that he became the perfect man, who did somewhat more than publican or heathen, who, overcoming evil with good and exercising what resembled a divine clemency, loved even his enemies, who prayed, as the Lord admonishes and exhorts, for the well-being of those who are persecuting him.
He then makes His sun rise, and bestows rain from time to time to foster the seed, shewing forth all these benefits not only to His own, but to strangers also; and he, who professes himself even God's son, why follows he not the example of his Father? If the very Gentiles, had they heard them in the rostrum, would probably have believed forthwith, what should a Christian people do, whose very name begins in faith? Accordingly ministrations are divided among them at once, according to the ranks and circumstances of such.
Many who from stress of poverty were unable to shew forth benefits of cost, shewed forth what was more than costliness; by their personal toil doing other services more precious than all riches. Who indeed under such a teacher but must haste to be occupied in some part of that warfare, by which he would be pleasing God the Father, and Christ the Judge, and so good a Priest besides? Accordingly they did good in the profusion of exuberant works to all, and not only to the household of faith. They did somewhat more than is recorded of the incomparable benevolence of Tobias. He must pardon the word, again pardon it, pardon it often; or, to speak more truly, he must in equity grant, that, although there was room for very much before Christ, yet after Him there has been room for somewhat more, since to Christ's times the fulness is ascribed.
The slain of the king and the outcasts, whom Tobias gathered together, were of his own kin only. To these so good and so merciful deeds banishment succeeded. For unbelief ever makes such return, recompensing the worse for the better. Nor need I mention what God's Priest answered the proconsul who questioned him, for there are Acts which relate it. Any how he is forbidden the city, he who had done some good towards its health; he who had toiled lest the eyes of the living should suffer the horrors of the infernal abode; he, I say, who sleepless in the watchings of benevolence had by a blameless kindness, O the crime!
But this is the world's concern in it, with whom exile is a punishment. To us our country is less dear, who have a name in common, who abhor even our own parents if they would persuade us contrary to the Lord. To them it is a heavy punishment to live away from their city. To the Christian the whole world is our home. Besides, while he serves God entirely, even in his own city he is a stranger.
For while he abstains from desires of the flesh by continence of the Holy Ghost, putting off the conversation of the old man, he is a foreigner even among his citizens, or, I may say, among the very parents of his earthly life. Moreover, though this might seem a punishment under other circumstances, yet in such causes and sentences which we suffer for trial of our virtue, it is not punishment, it is glory. But even suppose banishment to be a punishment to us.
If so, they are guilty of the most extreme of crimes and the worst impiety, as their own conscience testifies, who bring themselves to visit the innocent with what they deem a punishment. I will not at present delineate a delightful spot; I say nothing at first of the addition of all kinds of beauties.
Let us suppose the place offensive in its circumstances, wretched to look upon, without wholesome water, or pleasant green, or neighbouring shore; with vast rocks covered with forests, amid the inhospitable depths of an altogether desert solitude, far off in the world's trackless districts. Such a place might indeed bear the name of exile, had Cyprian, priest of God, come thither; to whom if man's ministrations failed, even the birds as to Elias, or the Angels as to Daniel, would minister.
Far, far indeed be it from any one to believe, that even the least among us, provided he remained in the confession of the Holy Name, should want any thing; so far was he God's Pontiff, who had ever been urgent in matters of mercifulness, from wanting the aid of all these things. Next let us recount with thanksgiving what I had put as the second supposition; namely, that there was divinely provided for the soul of such a man, a sunny and sufficient place, a place of sojourn, secret, as he could wish it, and whatever has been before promised as his portion who seeks the kingdom and righteousness of God [ Note 14 ].
For on that day when first we remained in the place of banishment, for me he chose out of his household in the condescension of his love to be a voluntary exile, which, O had I been also in his passion! He, on seeing me, forthwith began to write down upon a tablet a sentence, which I knew not, for he had not asked me questions in the usual form; however, that young man, who stood behind his back, with great anxiety read whatever had been set down.
And, since he could not utter it in words, he intimated it by signs, which declared what was in the writing of that tablet. For opening his hand and flattening it like a blade, and imitating the blow of customary execution, he expressed what he would have signified as if in clear words. I understood the future sentence of my passion. I began at once to ask and seek, that the delay even of one day might be given me, in order to my settling my affairs in a regular way.
After I had frequently repeated my prayer, he began again to set down something on the tablet. I perceived however, from the sereneness of his countenance, that the judge's mind was influenced by the request, as if reasonable. Moreover, that youth, who already had divulged somewhat by gesture, if not by word, concerning my passion, made haste to signify by secret signs from time to time, twisting his fingers one behind another, that the delay was granted which I asked until the morrow.
For me, although the sentence was not read, while my heart exulted at the pleasant news of delay granted, yet such was my alarm, from the chance of mistaking the interpretation, that it was still all in flutter and agitation from the remains of apprehension. What revelation could be more manifest? In nothing did the words of God come short; in nothing was the holy promise mutilated.
Do but review each particular as it was shewn to him. He seeks a delay till the morrow when his sentence of suffering was under deliberation; alleging his wish to settle his affairs on the day which he had gained. His one day signified a year, which he was to pass in this world after the vision. For, to speak more distinctly, he was crowned, at the completion of the year, on that very day, on which this had been announced to him at its commencement.
For the day of the Lord, though we do not find it used for year in divine Scripture, yet in making promise of things to come, we consider that that space of time ought to be given. Hence it matters not, if nothing short of a year be announced while a day was spoken of, since that would necessarily be more complete, which is greater. And whereas it was explained by gesture not by speech, express speech was reserved for the presence of the time itself.
For it is usual then to set forth a thing in words, when what is set forth is actually fulfilled. For no one knew for certain wherefore this was shewn to him, till it turned out that he was crowned on the same day on which he had seen it. And yet in the interval his impending passion was known for certain by all; but as to the particular day of his passion all those very persons were silent, as if they were ignorant. And indeed I find some such thing in the Scriptures.
For the Priest Zacharias, when a son was promised him by the Angel, because he believed not, became dumb; so that by signs he asked for a tablet, seeing he had, not to utter, but to write his son's name. Reasonably here too, when God's messenger signified the Bishop's impending passion mainly by signs, he both administered his faith and fortified his Priest.
But again the reason for seeking delay was his arranging his affairs and settling his will. Now what affairs had he, what will to arrange, except Ecclesiastical matters? For this reason there is a final delay granted, that arrangements may be made as to whatever wants arrangement by a final determination concerning the maintenance of the poor.
When then he had arranged matters so mercifully, and thus ordered them in his last wishes, tomorrow's day drew near. And now a messenger came to him from the City from Xystus, that good and peace-making Priest, and therefore most blessed Martyr [From Rome. The executioner was expected every day, who was to strike through that devoted neck of our most holy victim; and by this daily expectation of dying, every day, as it came, became to him as though a day of crowning. Meanwhile there came to him numbers of eminent and illustrious persons, men of rank and family and secular distinction, who, for the sake of their old friendship with him, urged him many times to retire, backing their solicitations with the offer of suitable places.
But he, with mind hanging upon heaven, had put the world out of sight, and did not assent to their persuasive solicitations. Perhaps he would have done then also, what was urged on him, and by many of the faithful too, if he had been bidden by divine command [ Note 15 ]. Nor must we leave unheralded the sublime glory of such a man, in that, when the world was now raging and in reliance on its Rulers breathing out hatred of the sacred Name, he, as occasion was given, fortified God's servants with exhortations of the Lord, and animated them to tread under foot sufferings of the present time, on the contemplation of the glory which is to follow.
In truth, there was in him so great a love of sacred discourse, that while he prayed for passion, he desired that it might be granted him while he was conversing concerning God. The Official surprised him, or, I should more truly say, thought he had. For what is there to surprise, as though by unforeseen attack, the mind which is always ready?
He went forward therefore, now certain that that would be accomplished, which had long been held back; he went forward with high and erect mind, with cheerfulness in his look, and constancy in his heart. All men throng together to a sight, which for us was glorious from the self-sacrifice of his faith, but to the Gentiles deplorable.
However, during his lodgment for one night in the house of the Official, his confinement was not rigorous, so that we his intimates and friends were in his company as usual.