Tuesday, May 11, 2010

St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage

I've mentioned before how much I enjoy reading the Church Fathers (I know it's kinda weird). About five years ago, I purchased a massive 38 volume set of books, which contains much of the Christian writings written during the first 500 years after Christ.

Of the Church Fathers, St. Cyprian is one of my favourites. Cyprian was born about the year 208 AD, into a wealthy pagan family in what is today Tunisia, in North Africa. He was a well educated, successful, prosperous Roman Citizen before his conversion to the Christian Faith.

Cyprian became a Christian at a time when the Christian faith was still illegal in the Roman Empire. He came to Christ when sporadic and intense persecutions were still a normal occurrence and part of Roman policy. Cyprian came to Christ when it could cost you your life, and he was willing to pay that high a price for the salvation that is available in Christ alone.

Cyprian became Bishop of Carthage around 248 AD and served the church and Christ in that position for a decade. In 256 AD a new round of Roman persecutions began. In August 257 Cyprian was called to appear before the Roman proconsul. At his hearing he refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods and gave testimony to his faith in Jesus his Saviour. For his actions and testimony he was banished from Carthage for a time, he eventually returned but remained under house arrest. In 258 a new edict came from the Emperor demanding that Christian clergymen be executed.

On September 14, 258 Cyprian again appeared before the proconsul and was sentenced to death. When his sentence was pronounced his only reply was, “Thanks be to God.” The execution was carried out that same day before a large crowd. When he arrived at the place of execution, Cyprian removed his robe and knelt down to pray, after his prayer he tied his blindfold into place and was beheaded by a Roman sword.

Cyprian is one of our greater brothers who came before us in the faith. He wrote a great deal and we still possess many of his letters and treatises. I’ve read most of what we still have from St. Cyprian and recommend his writings to everyone.

Coram Deo,

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