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Cyprian

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CYPRIAN, sfp'ff-an, Saint (Thaains CaDCilius Cyprianus), African bishop, martyr and one of the fathers of the Church: b. about 200; d. Carthage, 14 Sept. 258. He was of patrician parentage and inherited a considerable estate. Having received the highest education he professed rhetoric with eminent success in Carthage and in his school held disputations with representatives of the schools of philoso phy and with believers in the Christian religion, with the result that he applied for admission in the Church. Shortly after being baptized (246) he was ordained priest and then was elected by the Christians of Carthage to be their bishop (248). In the persecutions of the Chris tians by Decius (249-51) he prudently with drew from Carthage and lived in retirement, but on the accession of Gallus (251-53) he re turned to his see. There had been lively con troversies among the churches over the ques tion of readmission to the Christian communion of those who in times of persecution had re nounced the religion of Christ; churches in Asia Minor and churches in Africa, 'among them the church of Carthage, had in synods and in the letters addressed by their bishops to other bishops, strongly condemned the prac tice of some churches, among them that of Rome, in accepting as valid the baptism con ferred by heretics. On the question of read mitting the lapsi to communion Cyprian favored leniency: he would readmit the fallen on proof of sincere repentance. But he would not ac knowledge the validity of baptism conferred by an heretical minister. On this point he was at variance with the tradition and practice of the Catholic Church, and in support of his view he sent to Pope Stephen the acts of a synod of Carthage in which the invalidity of baptism conferred by heretics was declared.

Pope Stephen replied that the tradition of the Church was opposed to this and bade Cyprian not to innovate, but to recognize as true and valid baptism administered by heretics if given in the name of the Trinity. Firmilian, a con temporary, states that Stephen threatened Cyp rian with excommunication. To the threat the bishop of Carthage replied with great heat, but in the entire controversy on rebaptism he never calls the authority of Pontiff in question, although he laments what he calls the injustice of the decision. In this controversy the final decision of the Roman Catholic Church was in favor of Stephen: that decision was rendered in the Council of Arles (314) and in that of Nice (325). He did much to relieve and strengthen his episcopate. Under him seven councils were held, the last in 256. In the reign of Valerian a new persecution of the Christians was decreed, and Cyprian being arrested and brought before the pro-consul re fused to sacrifice to the gods and was banished and finally beheaded 14 Sept. 258. His day in the Roman calendar is 16 September, which day he shares with Pope Saint Cornelius. His writings include 'Unity of the •, (Dress of Virgins); (La P 'Lased' the 'Lord's rayer); the 'Vanity of Idols); 'Against the His works have been edited by Hartel, G., (3 vols., Vienna 1868-71) ; there is an English translation (in 'Ante-Nicene Fathers', Vol. V, Buffalo 1886-96). Consult Harnack, A., (Drei wenig beachtete cyprianische Schrif ten and die Octa Pauli) (Leipzig 1899) Von Soden, (Die cyprianische Brief sammluni) (id. 1904), and for his life, E. W. Benson (London and New York 1897) ; Faulkner (Cincinnati and New York 1906).