Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 4.djvu/665

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CYPRIAN


587


CYPRIAN


(hit the East was largely committed to the same \\ rung practice, the question was tacitly dropped. It >liouM be remembered that, though Stephen had de- ininiled unquestioning obedience, he had apparently, like I'yprian, considered the matter as a point of dis- I il'linc. St. Cyprian supports his view by a wrong inli'ience from the unity of the Church, and no one tliniight of the principle afterwards taught by St. Aiiuustine, that, since Christ is always the principal

iL;'-nt, the validity of the sacrament is independent of

tlie imworthiness of the minister: Ipse est qui bap- tizat. Yet this is what is implied in Stephen's insist- ing upon nothing more than the correct form, "be- cause baptism is given in the name of Christ", and "the effect is due to the majesty of the Name". The laying on of hands enjoined by Stephen is repeatedly said to be in pienitentiam, yet Cyprian goes on to argue that the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands is not the new birth, but must be subsequent to it and implies it. This has led some modems into the notion that Stephen meant confirmation to be given (so Duchesne), or at least that he has been so misunderstood by Cyprian (d'Alcs). But the passage (Ep. Ixxiv, 7) need not mean this, and it is most im- probable that confirmation was even thought of in this connexion. Cyprian seems to consider the laying on of hands in penance to be a giving of the Holy Ghost. In the East the custom of rebaptizing heretics had perhaps arisen from the fact that so many heretics disbelieved in the Holy Trinity, and po.ssibIy did not even use the right form and matter. For centuries the practice persisted, at least in the case of some of the heresies. But in the West to rebaptize was re- garded as heretical, and Africa came into line soon after St. Cyprian. St. Augustine, St. Jerome, and St. Vincent of Lerins are full of praise for the firmness of Stephen as befitting his place. But Cyprian's un- fortunate letters became the chief support of the Puritanism of the Donatists. St. Augustine in his "De Baptismo" goes through them one by one. He will not dwell on the violent words quce in Stephanum irritnlux effudit, and expresses his confidence that Cyprian's glorious martyrdom will have atoned for his excess.

Appe.vls to Rome. — Ep. Ixviii was written to Stephen before the breach. Cyprian has heard twice from Faustinus, Bishop of Lyons, that Marcianus, Bishop of Aries, has joined the party of Novatian. The pope will certainly have been already informed of this by Faustinus and by the other bishops of the province. Cyprian urges: " You ought to send very full letters to our fellow-bishops in Gaul, not to allow the obstinate and proud Marcianus any more to insult our fellowship. . . . Therefore send letters to the province and to the people of Aries, by which, Marci- anus having been excommunicated, another shall be svibstituted in his place . . . for the whole copious body of bishops Is joined together by the glue of mutual concord and the bond of unity, in order that if any of our fellowship should attempt to make a heresy and to lacerate and devastate the fiock of Christ, the rest may give their aid. . . . For though we are many shepherds, yet we feed one flock." It seems incon- testable that Cyprian is here explaining to the pope why he ventures to interfere, and that he attributes to the po[)e the power of deposing Marciaims and ordering a fresh election. We should compare his witness that Novatian usurped a similar power as antipope.

Another letter dates perhaps somewhat later. It emanates from a council of thirty-seven bishops, and was obviously composed by Cyprian. It is addres.sed to the priest Felix and the people of Legio and Astu- rica, and to th(> deacon .'Julius and the people of Emerita, in Spain. It relates that the bi.shops Felix and SabiiuLs had come to Carthage to complain. They had been legitimately ordained by the bishops


of the province in the place of the former bishops, Basilides and Martialis, who had both accepted libelli in the persecution. Basilides had further blasphemed God in sickness, had confessed his blasphemy, had voluntarily resigned his bishopric, and had been thankful to be allowed lay communion. Martialis had indulged in pagan banquets and had buried his sons in a pagan cemetery. He had publicly attested before tlie procurator ducenarius that he had denied Christ. Wherefore, says the letter, such men are unfit to be bishops, the whole Church and the late Pope Cornelius having decided that such men may be admitted to penance but never to ordination ; it does not profit them that they have deceived Pope Stephen, who was afar off and unaware of the facts, so that they obtained to be unjustly restored to their sees; nay, by this deceit they have only increased their guilt. The letter is thus a declaration that Stephen was wickedly deceived. No fault is imputed to him, nor is there any claim to reverse his decision or to deny his right to give it ; it is simply pointed out that it was founded on false information, and was therefore null. But it is obvious that the African council had heard only one side, whereas Felix and Sabinus must have pleaded their cause at Rome before they came to Africa. On this ground the Africans seem to have made too hasty a judgment. But nothing more is known of the matter.

Martykdom. — The empire was surrounded by bar- barian hordes who poured in on all sides. The danger was the signal for a renewal of persecution on the part of the Emperor Valerian. At Alexandria St. Diony- sius was exiled. On .30 Aug., 257, Cyprian was brought before the Proconsul Paternus in his secre- turium. His interrogatory is extant and forms the finst part of the "Acta proconsularia" of his martyr- dom. Cyprian declares himself a Christian and a bishop. He serves one God to Whom he prays day and night for all men and for the safety of the emper- ors. "Do you per.severe in this?" asks Paternus. "A good wUl which knows C!od cannot be altered." "Can you, then, go into exile at Curubis?" "I go." He is asked for the names of the priests also, but re- plies that delation is forbidden by the laws; they will be found easily enough in their respective cities. On September he went to Curubis, accompanied by Pon- tius. The town was lonely, but Pontius tells us it was sunny and pleasant, and that there were plenty of visitors, while the citizens were full of kindness. He relates at length Cj'jirian's dream on his first night there, that he was in the proconsul's court and con- demned to death, but was reprieved at his own request until the morrow. He awoke in terror, but once awake he awaited that morrow with calmness. It came to him on the very amiiversary of the dream. In Numidia the measures were more severe. Cyprian writes to nine bishops who were working in the mines, with half their hair .shorn, and with insufficient food and clothing. He was still rich and able to help them. Their replies are preserved, and we have also the au- thentic Acts of several African martyrs who suffered soon after Cyjirian.

In August, 2.5.S, Cjiirian learned that Pope Sixtus had been put to deatli in the catacombs on the Cth of that month, together with four of his deacons, in con- sequence of a new edict that bishops, priests, and deacons should be at once i)ut to death; senators, knights, and others of rank ar<' to lose their goods, and, if they still persist, to die; matrons to be exiled; Ca'sarians (oflicers of the /i.s-cus) to become slaves, (ialerius Ma.xinuis, the succe.s.sor of Paternus, sent for (-'vprian back to ( 'arthage, and in his own gardens the bishop awaited the final senti'iice. Many great per- sonages urged him to fiy, l)ut he had now no vision to recommend this course, and he desired above all to remain to exhort others. Yet he hid himself rather than obey the proconsul's summons to Utica, for he