Saints Cornelius and Cyprian
Today in the Church we have a deal - a two for one deal! Today we lovingly remember Saints Cornelius and Cyprian. Their feast days have been celebrated together since the fourth century! Even though they were separated by distance, they encouraged each other as they lived during a difficult time. Saint Cornelius was elected Pope after Pope Fabian was martyred. The election was delayed fourteen months because Emperor Decius was persecuting Christians. Once this persecution ended, one of the issues Saint Cornelius had to deal with was the treatment of Christians who had abandoned their faith during the persecution. Some bishops took them back as if nothing had happened, and some bishops did not allow any of them to return to the Church. Saint Cornelius took another direction. He welcomed them back, providing they did some form of penance. Saint Cyprian supported Saint Cornelius’ decision. Saint Cornelius was Pope for only two years. The persecutions began again and he was sent away from Rome and died from the hardships caused by his exile. While in exile he did receive a beautiful letter of support from his friend Saint Cyprian.
Now Saint Cyprian was originally a rich pagan teacher and attorney in the town of Carthage. When he became a Christian, people were amazed because Saint Cyprian was known for his extravagant lifestyle. Saint Cyprian was on a pretty fast track! Not long after becoming Christian and much studying of the faith, he became a bishop! During the persecution, Saint Cyprian went into hiding, but he sent letters to his flock in Carthage. When he returned to Carthage, an epidemic struck the city. Saint Cyprian organized his people to care for the sick. He even had his flock tend to those who had persecuted Christians! Eventually, during the persecution of Emperor Valerian, Saint Cyprian was beheaded after refusing to sacrifice to the pagan gods.
Saints Cornelius and Cyprian were a great source of encouragement to one another. Living in a time of persecutions, they encouraged one another to lead virtuous, self-sacrificing, and loving lives for God. May we always encourage one another to lead good lives for God and give thanks to God for the support we receive from our friends. God bless and stay safe!
Fr. Steve Breck
Pastor, St. Mary Magdalene