St. Cornelius and Cyprian

Friends in the Lord, today we celebrate the Memorial of St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian. St. Cornelius was one of the many early Popes, martyred for the Faith. St. Cyprian, of Carthage, was also martyred. We possess still today, many of the writings of St. Cyprian, and these writings along with others, serve as clear proof that the early Christians most certainly were living none other than the Catholic Faith.
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St. Cyprian wrote a great deal, and so his work is very important for those who study the history of Christianity. Here are a few examples of what he taught.
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Writing in the year 251 AD he says that those who confess their sins to a priest in a straightforward manner and in sorrow, making an open declaration of their conscience, remove the weight from their souls and obtain a saving remedy for their wounds, no matter how small or slight they may be.’
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‘I beseech you brethren, he says, let everyone who has sinned confess his sin while he is still in this world, while his confession is admissible, for satisfaction made through the priests is pleasing before the Lord.[i] Clearly, the early Christians believed in confession of sins to the priests.
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Also, writing in the year 256 Cyprian explains the teaching authority of the Pope: He says, ‘Christ gives the command to feed the sheep; Primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair of Peter. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he deserts the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?
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The writings of the early Christians prove that they were, just as we are: Catholic. This is why it is said, ‘to be an honest student of history, is to become a Catholic.
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St. Cyprian was a courageous witness to the True Faith. Ultimately, he was brought before the governor. ‘You are against the gods of the Empire,’ said the governor; ‘you are now commanded to honor the Roman gods. Cyprian: ‘I will not do so.’ The Governor read the sentence: It is decided that Thascius Cyprian should die by the sword. Cyprian said: ‘Thanks be to God.’ Seeing his courage, many other Christians said they would also join him.
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When the executioner arrived, Cyprian told his friends, ‘Give the man 25 pieces of gold.

 

[i] The Faith of the Early Fathers, Jurgens, p. 219.

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