Thursday, September 16, 2010

Memorial of Sts Cornelius and Cyprian

"Cyprian was an African.  He was first distinguished as a teacher of Rhetorick.  He afterwards became a Christian at the persuasion of the Priest Cecilius, whose surname he took, and parted all his goods among the poor.  It was not long before he was chosen a Priest, and then made Bishop of Carthage.  It would be idle to enlarge upon his wit, seeing that his works are as well known as the sun.  He suffered under the Emperors Valerian and Gallienus, in the eighth persecution, and upon the same day, though not in the same year, that Cornelius testified at Rome."

-- From the writings of St Jerome

"Cornelius was a Roman who held the Popedom during the reign of the Emperors Gallus and Volusian.  He, and that most holy Lady Lucina, took the bodies of the Apostles Peter and Paul out of the Catacombs and put them in more convenient places.  Lucina laid the body of Paul in a farm of her own upon the road to Ostia, hard by the place where he had received the sword-stroke.  Cornelius placed that of the Prince of the Apostles hard by where he had been crucified.  When this was told to the Emperors, and likewise that Cornelius was the means of making many Christians, he was banished to Civitavecchia, where Cyprian, the holy Bishop of Carthage, comforted him by letters.

They continued thus to write often one to the other, till the Emperors took in bad part these exchanges of Christian love, and sent for Cornelius to Rome.  There they commanded him to be lashed with scourges loaded with lead as though he were a traitor, and then to be carried to offer sacrifice before the image of Mars.  He firmly refused to commit this great wickedness, and was forthwith beheaded, upon the 14th day of September.  The blessed Lucina, with the help of the clergy, buried his body in the sand-pit on her own farm, near the Cemetery of Callistus.  He lived as Pope about two years."

-- From the 1911 Breviary of St Pius X (1955 ed)

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