The detestable superstitions of Saint Cyprian’s idolatrous parents delivered him, from his infancy, to the devil, and he was brought up in all the impious mysteries of idolatry, astrology, and black magic. Cyprian, having learned all the extravagances of these schools of error and delusion, hesitated at no crime, blasphemed Christ and committed secret murders.Saint Cyprian and Saint Justina, Martyrs
In the time of the emperor Diocletian, there lived at Antioch a young Christian called Justina, of high birth and great beauty. A pagan nobleman fell in love with her, and finding her modesty inaccessible and her resolution to evade him invincible, he applied to Cyprian for assistance. Cyprian tried every secret with which he was acquainted to overcome her resolution. Justina, perceiving herself vigorously attacked, armed herself by prayer, watchfulness, and mortification against all his demonic artifices and the power of his spells. Cyprian, realizing he was being bested by a superior power, began to recognize the weakness of the infernal spirits, and resolved to quit their service and become a Christian himself. Agladius, the suitor of the holy virgin, was likewise converted and baptized.
When the persecution of Diocletian broke out, Cyprian and Justina were seized and presented to the same judge. She was inhumanly scourged, and Cyprian was torn with iron hooks. After this they were sent in chains to Diocletian, who commanded their heads to be struck off. This sentence was executed at Nicomedia, in the year 304.
Reflection: If the errors and disorders of Saint Cyprian show the degeneracy of human nature corrupted by sin and enslaved to vice, his conversion displays the power of grace and virtue to repair it. Let us beg of God to send grace to those who are still slaves of error today, and be confident that He will not be deaf to our charitable prayer.
Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).