Vol.X No.VIII Pg.4
October 1973

Cyprians Death

Jim R. Everett

An edict was issued from Decius of Rome that anyone who would not worship the Roman Gods would die (ca. A.D. 249). Hence Roman citizens viewed Christians with suspicion. If the empire had been afflicted by any recent calamity, by a plague, a famine, or an unsuccessful war; if the Tiber had, or if the Nile had not, risen beyond its banks; if the earth had shaken, or if the temperate order of the seasons had been interrupted, the superstitious Pagans were convinced that the crimes and the impiety of the Christians, provoked the Divine justice, (Gibbons Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, p. 149).

Cyprian, who is referred to as being the bishop of Carthage, came under fire as a result of the clamoring multitude who demanded he be thrown to the lions. Prudence suggested the necessity of a temporary retreat, and the voice of prudence was obeyed, (Gibbon, op. cit., p. 150).

But Cyprian redeemed himself by coming out of hiding seven years later. Paternus, proconsul of Africa, summoned Cyprian to appear before him in his private chamber. Paternus advised Cyprian of the edict and called upon him to return to the Roman religion. Cyprian replied that he was a Christian and a worshipper of the one true deity. He was banished to Curubis.

Within a year he was recalled from banishment and things seemed favorable until Galerius Maximus, the new proconsul of Africa, received the Imperial warrant for the execution of all Christian teachers. Cyprian was sensible that he should be singled out for one of the first victims, and the frailty of nature tempted him to withdraw himself, by a secret flight, from the danger and the honour of martyrdom; but, soon recovering that fortitude which his character required, he returned to his gardens, and patiently expected the ministers of death, (Gibbon, op. cit., p. 151).

His friends visited with him during his last elegant supper, while the streets filled with a multitude of concerned brethren. They were aware of his impending fate. The next morning, he appeared before the tribunal of the proconsul who called upon him one last time to reflect upon his disobedience and to offer sacrifices to Roman gods. Cyprian firmly refused. The sentence was pronounced: That Thascius Cyprianus should be immediately beheaded as the enemy of the gods of Rome, and as the chief and ringleader

He was accompanied to the place of. execution by his brethren who assisted him in laying aside his upper garment. The martyr then covered his face with his hands, and at one blow his head was separated from his body, (Gibbon, op. cit., p. 152).

Cyprians courage seems, at times to have suffered at the hands of his own rationalization. And, while no Christians are dying today because of their faith, it seems that we have lost the martyr-spirit —we are not willing to give ourselves body and soul to Christ. If we suffer, we shall reign with him: If we deny him, he also will deny us. (II Tim. 2:12) Give me courage, Lord.verett