Saints Cornelius, Pope and Martyr, and Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr

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Today is the Feast of Saints Cornelius, Pope and Martyr, and Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr. Saint Cornelius was elected Pope in 251 during the persecutions of the Emperor Decius. In 253 Cornelius was exiled by Gallus and died shortly after. He is venerated as a martyr.

Saint Cyprian of Carthage, one of the great fathers of the Church in Africa, was a close friend of Pope Cornelius and was his ardent supporter against the antipope Novatian and in support of Cornelius’ teaching concerning the re-admittance into the Church of those who had committed apostasy in the face of Roman persecution.

Cyprian is the author of “The Unity of the Catholic Church,” written in the mid-200s, in which he argues that Christian unity is grounded in the authority of the bishop and in the primacy of the See of Rome.

“You cannot have God for your Father if you do not have the Church for your mother…. God is one and Christ is one, and his Church is one; one is the faith, and one is the people cemented together by harmony into the strong unity of a body…. If we are the heirs of Christ, let us abide in the peace of Christ; if we are the sons of God, let us be lovers of peace.” — from “The Unity of the Catholic Church” by St. Cyprian.

Cyprian was exiled and then martyred on the fourteenth of September, 258, during the persecution of Emperor Valerian.

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