St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage
All my life and work occurred there. Known as the Priest Martyr. I matriculated quickly in an excellent secular education, attending the school of Carthage. I became an orator, rhetoric, and philosophy instructor. I appeared often at court defending townsfolk.
I taught rhetoric oratory before I converted to the Christian one holy Catholic and Apostolic faith. I assiduously studied Scripture, and my mentor Tertullian's writings. I spent my parents' wealth, as well as the proceeds from banquets work. I continually questioned what truth was.
Christianity gained my curiosity. I studied the writings of the African, Tertullian, and the Presbyter, (born around 160 A.D.).
Later, I wrote my habits made it appear impossible for me to reach the revival promised by Yeshua, Jesus, and my Savior. Cecilius the Presbyter, (my spiritual mentor), freed me from confusion. At age 46, I became a Christian catechumen.
Prior to my baptism, I gave my property to the poor. I moved to Cecilius' house. Thus graced by God, I wrote my friend Donatus, "When the surge of regeneration cleansed my former life impurity, a light steady and bright, shone from Heaven in my heart. "
I was born again, invigorated by the Holy Spirit. God revealed to me mysteries. He made darkness, light. I learned that my former living in the flesh for sin belonged to the earthly. Now I began divine living by the Holy Spirit. In God and from God is all our strength. From Him is our might. Through Him, we who live on earth receive the hint of a condition of future bliss.
The year following my baptism, I was ordained a priest. When Bishop Donatus of Carthage died, the faithful unanimously chose me as bishop in about the year 248 A.D. I said, "Unconditionally, yes," complying with my mentor's request. I was ordained bishop of Carthage. Around the year in 248 A.D., church authorities elevated to the rank of bishop of Carthage. It was the time of the
reign of terror in the persecutions of Roman Emperor Decius.
The Church's welfare proved my first concern, along with the concomitant ridding of vices in the clergy and flock. Hopefully, my life caused the observing faithful a desire to imitate my God-given piety, humility, and wisdom with which God graced me.
I became known beyond my diocese. Bishops from other areas sought my counsel.
But persecution by the Emperor Decius, 249
A.D. to 251 A.D., revealed to me in a dream, forced me to hide. My life was necessary to my flock. I conducted my life to the strengthening faith and courage among my persecuted.
Prior to my leaving, I distributed the church treasury among all the clergy to help to the poor. I later sent additional funds. Through my letters (called epistles) to Presbyters, confessors and martyrs, I kept constant touch with Carthaginian Christians.
Some in my flock offered the Roman required sacrifices to the false Roman gods. Some congregants said they did, when they did not. I was called to mediate he controversy of allowing such apostates back into the Mystical Body of Christ.
Church hierarchy required they do penance before re-admittance to the Church. Because I refused to sacrifice to the false gods.
Weakened by torture, some faithful souls offered sacrifice to pagan gods. Later, these lapsed Christians appealed to confessors for a letter of reconciliation.
This intercession certificate accepted the lapsed back to the Church. I wrote Carthaginian Christians regarding this.
I said that those lapsed during a time of persecution might be re- admitted to the Church only after penance and with the local bishop's permission.
But I cautioned that Bishops must investigate the situation under which the lapse happened. Examination of the lapsed proved necessary to learn their sincere contrition. For some of the fallen wanted immediate Church re-admittance. This stirred community turmoil. I asked counsel and opinions of other diocese bishops. All approved my rules.
During my absence, I delegated authority to four priest examiners of persons preparing for ordination to the priesthood and the deaconate. But there was mischief.
Two influential persons resisted Felicissimus, and the Presbyter, Novatus. I excommunicated Felicissimus with his six accomplices.
My letter to the African Church of Carthage, cautioned all not to split themselves from Church unity. I told them to wait my return. I counseled them to obey the lawful commands of the administering bishop in my absence.
Most Carthaginian Christians remained faithful. A Local Council ended Felicissimus' defiance when I returned in 251 A.D.
That enclave judged the reception of the lapsed back into the Church after a church penance. It further upheld Felicissimus' excommunication.
A new schism (break in the Church unity) arose through the auspices of the Roman Presbyter, Novatian. Novatus, a former Felicissimus associate, and Carthaginian Presbyter, joined the movement.
Novatian taught that if Christians repented of their sin, the lapsed Christians during time of persecution could not be re-admitted. Both Novatian and Novatus convinced three Italian bishops during the tenure of the lawful Roman bishop Celerinus to place another bishop on the Roman cathedra.
I first wrote a series of circular letters to the African bishops condemning these wrongs. Later, I composed an entire tome, "On the Unity of the Church."
A plague erupted, just as the attenuation of discord in the Carthage church began. Hundreds died in Carthage. Folks abandoned the sick. The dead were left unburied. God graced me by my example and fortitude to personally tend the sick and bury not only Christian, but also pagan dead as well.
Drought and famine followed, and attacks by the barbarian Numidians. They enslaved many of residents.
We petitioned wealthy Carthaginians to develop support methods to feed the starving and to ransom captives. On top of that, Emperor Valerian (253 A.D. to 259 A.D.) ordered new Christian persecutions.
Paternus, the Carthaginian proconsul, ordered all the faithful to sacrifice to idols. I refused, remaining silent as to the names and residences
of the Presbyters/ (Elder)s of the Carthage Church.
I was sent to Corubisum. Deacon Pontus voluntarily followed me into exile. After arriving, I dreamed a quick martyr's end. I wrote letters and books. But my coming martyrdom at Carthage caused me to return.
However, the court freed me until the next year. During that time, Carthaginian Christians bade me farewell and asked me to bless them. In a later trial, I again refused to sacrifice to idols. The court sentenced me to beheading. "Thanks be to God!" I said. All the Christians present said in unified voice, "We want to die with him!"
At the execution, I blessed all present. I gave 25 gold coins to the executioner, then covered my eyes, then lowered my head. I was martyred 58 A.D.
Christians crying placed their shawls and veils by me to gather my blood. Nightfall, the faithful took by body and buried me in the private crypt of Procurator Macrovius Candidianus.
Five Hundred years later, Charlemagne, King Charles the Great officials transferred my relics to France, Hieromartyr.
St. Maria Goretti
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