The Letters Of St Cyprian Of Carthage
The Letters Of St Cyprian Of Carthage – The Hieromartyr Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, * was born around the year 200 in the city of Carthage (North Africa), where his entire life and work took place. Thascius Cyprian was the son of a rich pagan senator, and received a fine secular education and became a wonderful orator, and teacher of rhetoric and philosophy in the school of Carthage. He often appeared in the courts to defend his fellow citizens.
Cyprian afterwards recalled that for a long time he “remained in a deep dark mist…, far from the light of truth.” His fortune, received from his parents and from his work, was spent on sumptuous banquets, but they were not able to quench in him the thirst for truth. He became acquainted with the writings of the apologist Tertullian, and was convinced of the truth of Christianity. The holy bishop later wrote that he thought it was impossible for him to come to the restoration promised by the Savior, because of his habits.
The Letters Of St Cyprian Of Carthage
He was helped by his friend and guide, the presbyter Cecilius, who assured him of the power of God’s grace. At the age of 46, the learned pagan was received as a catechumen in the Christian community. Before he was baptized, he gave his possessions to the poor and moved into the house of the presbyter Cecilius.
Hallowed Be Thy Name Cyprian
When St. Cyprian was finally baptized, he wrote in the Treatise To Donatus: “When the water of regeneration cleansed the impurity of my former life, a light from above shone in my heart… and the Spirit changed me into a new man through a second birth. Then all at once, miraculously, certainty replaced doubt, mysteries were revealed, and darkness became light… Then it was possible to recognize that what was born of the flesh and lived before sin was earthly, but what the Holy Spirit had vivified began to be of God … In God and of God is all our strength … Through Him, while we live on earth, we have a hint of future happiness.”
Two years after his baptism, the saint was ordained to the priesthood. When Bishop Donatus of Carthage died, Saint Cyprian was unanimously elected as bishop. He gave his consent, after complying with the request of his guide, and was consecrated bishop of Carthage in the year 248.
The saint was primarily concerned about the welfare of the church and the eradication of vices among the clergy and flock. The holy life of the archpastor evoked in everyone a desire to imitate his piety, humility and wisdom. The fruitful activity of Saint Cyprian became known beyond the borders of his diocese. Bishops from other seas often turn to him for advice on how to deal with various matters.
A persecution by the emperor Decius (249-251), revealed to the saint in a vision, forced him to go into hiding. His life was necessary for his flock to strengthen the faith and courage among the persecuted. Before his departure from his diocese, the saint distributed the church fund among all the clergy to help the needy, and in addition he sent further money.
Life Of St. Cyprian (vita Cypriani) Ebook By Pontius The Deacon, Robert Ernest Wallis
He kept in constant contact with the Carthaginian Christians through his letters, and he wrote letters to presbyters, confessors and martyrs. Some Christians, broken by torture, sacrificed to the pagan gods. These lapsed Christians appealed to the confessional, and asked to be given what is called a letter of reconciliation, i.e. a certificate for their acceptance back into the church. Saint Cyprian wrote a general letter to all Carthaginian Christians, in which it was stated that those who had lapsed during a time of persecution could be admitted into the Church, but this must be preceded by an investigation into the circumstances in which the waste came. It was necessary to determine the sincerity of repentance of the deceased. Admit them was possible only after penance, and with the permission of the bishop. Some of the fallen demanded their immediate reinstatement in the church and caused unrest in the whole community. Saint Cyprian wrote to the bishops of other dioceses to ask their opinion, and from all he received full approval of his directives.
During his absence, the saint authorized four priests to examine the lives of persons preparing for ordination to the priesthood and the diaconate. This met with opposition from the layman Felicissimus and the presbyter Novatus, roused to indignation against their bishop. Saint Cyprian excommunicated Felicissimus and six of his followers. In his letter to the flock, the saint exhorts them all not to separate themselves from the unity of the Church, to be subject to the legal orders of the bishop and to await his return. This letter kept the majority of Carthaginian Christians loyal to the church.
In a short time Saint Cyprian returned to his flock. The insubordination of Felicissimus was put to an end at a local Council in the year 251. This Council decided that it was possible to receive the lapsed back into the Church after a penance, and it confirmed the excommunication of Felicissimus.
At that time a new schism arose, led by the Roman presbyter Novatianus, and by the Carthaginian presbyter Novatus, a former follower of Felicissimus. Novatian argued that those who lapsed during a time of persecution could not be readmitted even if they repented of their sin. In addition, Novatian, with the help of Novatus, convinced three Italian bishops during the lifetime of the legitimate Roman bishop Celerinus to place another bishop on the Roman cathedra. Against such injustice, Saint Cyprian wrote a series of encyclicals to the African bishops, and later a whole book, On the unity of the church.
Gloria Romanorum: March 2017
When the disunity in the Carthage church began to calm down, a new disaster began: a plague broke out. Hundreds of people fled the city, leaving the sick without help, and the dead without burial. Saint Cyprian, who set an example by his steadfastness and his courage, cared for the sick and even buried the dead, not only Christians, but also pagans. The plague was accompanied by drought and famine. A horde of barbarous Numidians, profiting by the misfortune, fell upon the inhabitants, and took many captives. Saint Cyprian moved many wealthy Carthaginians to offer resources to feed the starving and ransomed prisoners.
When a new persecution against Christians spread under the emperor Valerian (253-259), the Carthaginian proconsul Paternus gave the holy order to sacrifice to idols. He steadfastly refused to do this. He also refused to give the names and addresses of the presbyters of the church of Carthage. She sent the saint to the city of Curubis, and deacon Pontus voluntarily followed his bishop into exile.
On the day that the saint arrived at the place of exile, he had a vision that foretold a quick martyrdom for him. While in exile, Saint Cyprian wrote many letters and books. He wanted to suffer at Carthage, and returned there. Taken to court, he was released until the following year. Almost all the Christians of Carthage came to say goodbye to their bishop and receive his blessing.
At the trial, St. Cyprian calmly and firmly refused to sacrifice to idols and was sentenced to be beheaded with a sword. On hearing the sentence, Saint Cyprian said: “Thank God!” All the people shouted with one voice: Let us also be entertained with him!
Cyprian Of Carthage
When he arrived at the place of execution, the saint again gave his blessing to all and arranged to give twenty-five gold coins to the executioner. He then tied a handkerchief over his eyes, and gave his hands to be bound to the presbyter and archdeacon who stood by him and lowered his head. Christians put their cloths and napkins in front of him to collect the martyr’s blood. Saint Cyprian was executed in the year 258. The saint’s body was taken at night and buried in a private crypt of the procurator Macrobius Candidianus.
Some say that his holy relics were transferred to France during the time of King Charlemagne (ie Charlemagne, 771-814).
Saint Cyprian of Carthage left a precious legacy to the Church: his writings and 80 letters. The works of Saint Cyprian were accepted by the Church as a model of orthodox confession and read at two Ecumenical Councils (Ephesus and Chalcedon).
In the writings of Saint Cyprian, the orthodox teaching about the church is: It has its foundation on the Lord Jesus Christ, and was preached and built up by the apostles. The inner unity is expressed in a unity of faith and love, and the outer unity is actualized by the hierarchy and sacraments of the Church.
Saints Cornelius, Pope, And Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs
In the church Christ includes all the fullness of life and salvation. Those who have separated themselves from the unity of the church have no true life in themselves. Christian love is shown as the bond that holds the church together. “Love is the foundation of all virtues, and it remains with us forever in the heavenly Kingdom.”
* Saint Cyprian of Carthage is often confused in the Orthodox Church