FEAST OF ST. CYPRIAN, ARCHBISHOP OF CARTHAGE. The date of his birth is unknown; he died a Martyr, being beheaded about the year 258.
ST. CYPRIAN began life as a lawyer, nor was he baptized till of ripe age. He was chosen Bishop of Carthage by the general voice in the year 248; and though he shrank out of sight to evade the dignity, was finally constrained to obey that call of God conveyed by the mouth of the people.
Even before his consecration he had embarked on the sea of controversy; and amid those stormy waters he toiled year after year, opposing diverse errors, pronouncing judgment on points of faith or of discipline.
From the persecution under Decius he sought shelter by flight, deeming it his duty so to do, yet from afar shepherding his forlorn flock. A second persecution found him immovable in his See, exhorting, sustaining, comforting the souls committed to his charge.
It was not till for the third time he was summoned to face persecution that he joined the noble army of martyrs; nor even then, before he had endured an eleven months' exile from Carthage. Galerius Maximus, Proconsul under the Emperors Valerian and Gallienus, recalled him from banishment, and on his steadfastness in the faith, pronounced his death doom. "Thanks be to God," then said holy Cyprian.
He was led to a field, where he prayed and made ready. The bandage he bound over his own eyes, and two of his friends bound his hands. Whereupon the stroke of the headsman set him free, and sent him home at once and for ever.
He has bequeathed many holy writings to the Church Universal: let us treasure two sentences:
"He flies not alone who hath Christ the companion of his flight. He is not alone who beareth about with him everywhere the temple of God, and hath God ever with him."