St. Cornelius Pope And St. Cyprian Bishop, Martyrs, September 16

September 16th is the Feast of St Cornelius (Martyr and Pope 253+) and St. Cyprian (Martyr and Bishop 258+).

Cornelius_LOCHNER, Stefan“Cornelius, a Roman, was Pope under the Emperors Gallus and Volusianus. He strongly resisted the heresy of Novatian, wrote many things with great charity concerning those who had fallen away ; and we possess eight letters addressed to him by St. Cyprian. In exile at Civitavecchia, worn out with hardships, he died a martyr. Cyprian, an African, was first a famous teacher of Rhetorick ; then, at the persuasion of the priest Cecilius, from whom he took his surname, he became a Christian and gave all his substance away to the poor. After a short time he was made priest and then appointed Bishop of Carthage. He also wrote much against the schism of Novatian and tried in every way to repair the injuries suffered by the Church. It would be needless to give an account of his wisdom, for his works outshine the sun. He suffered in the eighth persecution under the Emperors Valerian and Gallienus.”  From The Roman Breviary.

In St. Cyprians writing on “The Unity of the Catholic Church” he said: “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.”

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Saint Cornelius was elected Pope in 251.  At the same time there was an anti-pope Novatian.  He convened a synod to confirm his rightful papacy.

Saint Cyprian lived in Carthage is second only to the St. Augustin in being a great Church Father from Northern Africa.  He was friend of Pope Cornelius, and supported him both against the anti-pope Novatian and the agreed on strict rules for the re-admittance of apostates back into the Church.