Who was Saint Cyprian?

     Saint Cyprian became the Bishop of Carthage, North Africa, in 249 A.D. and was martyred for the faith in 258 A.D. on September 14th, which later became the Feast of the Holy Cross.  Today, the feast of St. Cyprian is celebrated on September 16.
     Little is known about his pre-Christian life.  Cyprian was an orator, highly educated, and a man of considerable wealth.   A complete change came over Cyprian, astonishing all who knew him.  He converted to Christianity as an adult in 246 A.D., after which he shared his wealth with the poor.  Within two years of conversion, Cyprian was ordained to the priesthood and soon became Bishop of Carthage.
     St. Cyprian guided his community through two great persecutions of the Church, the second of which claimed his own life.  He chose to be beheaded rather than renounce his faith by offering sacrifices to pagan gods. Through words and example, St. Cyprian encouraged his people to persevere in the Christian faith, even until death.
     St. Cyprian had a deep love for the unity of the Church, and did all he could to protect that unity.  He wrote: “You cannot have God for your Father if you do not have the Church for your Mother. God is one and Christ is one, and his Church is one; one in faith, one in the people cemented together by harmony into the strong unity of the body… If we are heirs of Christ, let us abide in the peace of Christ; if we are the children of God, let us be lovers of peace.“
     May we, the Christian Community named for St. Cyprian, persevere in our faith in the twenty-first century and seek the same unity in Christ for which St. Cyprian offered his life.
Click here for more information about the life of St. Cyprian.