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Who was Saint Cyprian?


Saint Cyprian was born around the year 200 and died September 14, 258. He was bishop of Carthage and one of the major theologians of the early African church. He was the son of wealthy parents and became a teacher of rhetoric and literature. He converted to Christianity in 246. Shortly thereafter he was ordained a priest and elected bishop of Carthage in 248.

Cyprian was forced to flee Carthage during the persecutions of Emperor Decius from 249 to 251. After his return he turned to the problem of Christians who had failed to stand firm during the persecution. Cyprian favored the readmission of such Christians to the church but under stringent conditions. Opposing the schism of Novatian, who believed that lapsed Christians should be permanently excluded, he argued that baptisms performed by schismatics were invalid. On this issue he was opposed by Pope Stephen I.  In the renewed persecution of Valerian’s reign, Cyprian was beheaded not far from Carthage.

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