Today's Saint (September 16): Cyprian of Carthage, Bishop & Martyr
Saint Cyprian was born in Carthage, Africa around 200. Before his conversion, he was a gifted teacher of rhetoric and an orator. After his conversion he immersed himself in the study of Scripture, as well as in the writings of his mentor, Tertullian.
Upon being made bishop of Carthage in 248, he and the Church faced the persecutions of the Roman Emperor Decian. A group of Christians renounced their faith by offering sacrifices to the Roman gods, and some by falsely saying that they had done so.
Cyprian, out of compassion and mercy, took the middle ground amongst the Church hierarchy with respect to the Church's apostate flock, requiring they do penance before being admitted back into the Church. He was ultimately martyred himself in 258, after refusing to sacrifice to pagan gods.
"And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation" (2 Cor. 1:7). (From the day's epistle, page F 4, The People's Anglican Missal).
The accompanying picture of Cyrprian is a statue in Saint Cyprian's Church in London, created by Sir Ninian Comper.
Books Worth Considering
Fox's Book of Martyrs
Reason Is Beguiled: On the Mystery of Martyrdom & of Total Self Gift
By Their Blood: Christian Martyrs of the Twentieth Century
The Testimony of Saint Cyprian Against Rome
The Treasury of Saints and Martyrs
Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
The Oxford Dictionary of Saints (Oxford Paperback Reference)
The Penguin Dictionary of Saints: Third Edition (Dictionary, Penguin)