September 15: Cyprian Bishop and Martyr of Carthage, 258

Welcome to the Holy Women, Holy Men blog! We invite you to read about this commemoration, use the collect and lessons in prayer, whether individually or in corporate worship, and then tell us what you think. For more information about this project, click here.

About this commemoration

Cyprian was a rich, aristocratic, and cultivated rhetorician in North Africa. He was converted to Christianity about 246, and by 248 was chosen Bishop of Carthage. A year later, in the persecution under the Emperor Decius, Cyprian went into hiding. For this he was severely criticized. Nonetheless, he kept in touch with his Church by letter, and directed it with wisdom and compassion. In the controversy over what to do with those who had lapsed during the persecution, Cyprian held that they could be reconciled to the Church after suitable periods of penance, the gravity of the lapse determining the length of the penance. His moderate position was the one that generally prevailed in the Church, over that of the rigorist Novatian, who led a group into schism at Rome and Antioch over this question. In another persecution, under the Emperor Valerian, Cyprian was placed under house arrest in Carthage, and, on September 14, 258, he was beheaded.

Many of Cyprian’s writings have been preserved. His Letter No. 63 contains one of the earliest affirmations that the priest, in offering the Eucharist (“the sacrifice”), acts in the place of Christ, imitating his actions.

In his treatise, On the Lord’s Prayer, he wrote: “We say ‘Hallowed be thy Name,’ not that we want God to be made holy by our prayers, but because we seek from the Lord that his Name may be made holy in us … so that we who have been made holy in Baptism may persevere in what we have begun to be.”

Although there is some question whether his book, On the Unity of the Catholic Church, affirms papal primacy, there is no question about the clarity of his statements on the unity of the college of bishops and the sin of schism. “The episcopate is a single whole,” he wrote, “in which each bishop’s share gives him a right to, and a responsibility for, the whole. So is the Church a single whole, though she spreads far and wide into a multitude of Churches … If you leave the Church of Christ you will not come to Christ’s rewards, you will be an alien, an outcast, an enemy. You cannot have God for your Father unless you have the Church for your Mother.”

COLLECTS

O Almighty God, who didst give to thy servant Cyprian boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for the sake of the same our Lord Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Almighty God, who gave to your servant Cyprian boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Lessons

Micah 4:1–5

1 Peter 5:1–4,10–11

John 10:11–16

Psalm 116:10–17

Preface of a Saint (3)

Text From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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6 Responses to September 15: Cyprian Bishop and Martyr of Carthage, 258

  1. Michael Hartney says:

    Hebrew reading: This seems to be a good addition.

    Bio: In contrast with many of the proposed commemorations, this LLF 06 bio does say who he is and why he is important – and it does note dramatically the day and year of his death.

  2. Michael Hartney says:

    Since no one else seems to be commenting today I will take the chance to comment twice.

    There seems to me to be a distinct difference in style, organization, and prose between commemorations currently in The Episcopal Church calendar and those that are being proposed. Overall, the collects and bios of commemorations currently in the calendar seem, IMHO, to be ‘better.’

    I am glad that SCLM has made this blog possible so that our community of ten or so daily bloggers can offer suggestions for improvements – and even corrections sometimes.

    Thank you for making it possible.

  3. Leonel L. Mitchell says:

    Cyprian is an important saint. His biography has been enriched, and this propers a fine, BUT HE BELONGS ON SEPTEMBER 13.

    • Michael Hartney says:

      Cyprian’s bio is the same as it appears in Lesser Feasts and Fast 2006.

    • agreed! our modest calendar at Trinity Wall Street- St. Paul’s Chapel in NY instead of fancy color pictures, has the names dates,and the 13th agrees with our source- Book of Common Prayer,Holy Women, Holy Men, & Bookof Occassional Services. Each date lists the name, date of death and reason, and n the spot where thee would beautiful pictures,lists the RCL Masses/Eucharistic Lectionaries and Liturgical Notes. It has also had a personal payff for me.
      My Uncle, Robert Ezra McCann was imprisoned by the PRC in 1950, as he was optomistic about China’s future. The Anglican Bishop of Honan, felt the same way, but was imprisoned upon his return from LAMBETH, and was held prisoner. He and my uncle who spoke flawles Mandarinbecame friends. The Bishop died in prison in 1954,my uncle in 1961. I am now comparing with Catholic feast days, and martyrs deaths….. Thank you for posting this, is a refreshing change from what happened at the General Convention! I was lucky toattend the WCC historic two day sym[osium in Nnjing and Shanghai n June. KEEP WRITING ON INTERESTIN TOPICS!!

  4. Tom Broad says:

    The reading from Micah is most appropriate and a welcome addition.

    As far as date of commemoration, I will add to my comment from Sept 13th:
    Both Cyprian and Crysostom find their date of death falling on September 14th, Holy Cross Day. I understand that there are reasons (RC tradition of Sept 13 for John Chrysostom ), but Cyprian has precedence in both history of celebration (in Episcopal tradition) and date of martyrdom, to claim the date of Sept 13.

    SUGGESTION — RESTORE Cyprian to September 13 and TRANSFER Chrysostom to September 15.

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