Cyprian’s Confessio begins: “Whosoever ye be that are seduced by the mysteries of the demons, none of you can equal the zeal I once had for these false gods, nor my researches into their secrets, nor the vain power they had communicated to me, to me Cyprian, who from my infancy was given up to the service of the dragon in the citadel of Minerva. Learn from me the deceitfulness of their illusions. A virgin has proved to me that their power is but smoke. The king of the demons was arrested at the door of a mere child, and could not cross the threshold. He who promises so much is a liar. A woman makes sport of the boaster who vaunted he could shake heaven and earth. The roaring lion becomes a startled gnat before the Christian virgin Justina.”
Cyprianus primum magus, postea Martyr, cum Justiniam, christianam virginem, quam juvenis quidam ardenter amabat, cantionibus ac veneficiis ad ejus libidinis assensum allicere conaretur, dæmonem consuluit, quanam id re consequi posset. Cui dæmon respondit, nullam illi artem processuram adversus eos qui vere Christum colerent. Quo responso commotus Cyprianus, vehementer dolere cœpit vitæ superioris institutum. Itaque relictic magicis artibus, se totum ad Christi Domini fidem convertit. Quam ob causam una cum virgine Justina comprehensus est, et ambo colaphis flagellisque cæsi sunt: mox in carcerem conjecti, si forte sententiam commutarent. Verum inde postea emissi, cum in christiana religione constantissimi reperirentur, in sartaginem plenam ferventis picis, adipis et ceræ injecti sunt. Demum Nicomediæ securi feriuntur. Quorum projecta corpora, cum sex dies inhumata jacuissent, noctu quidam nautæ clam ea in navem imposita Romam portaverunt: ac primum in prædio Rufinæ nobilis feminæ sepulta sunt: postea translata in Urbem, in basilica Constantiniana condita sunt prope baptisteterium.
Cyprian, who was first a magician and afterwards a martyr, attempted, by charms and spells, to make Justina, a Christian virgin, consent to the passion of a certain young man. He consulted the devil as to the best way to succeed, and was told in reply that no art would be of any service to him against the true disciples of Christ. This answer made so great an impression on Cyprian, that, grieving bitterly over his former manner of life, he abandoned his magical arts, and was completely converted to the faith of Christ our Lord. Accused of being a Christian, he was seized together with the virgin Justina, and they were both severely scourged. They were then thrown into prison to see if they would change their mind; but on being taken out, as they remained firm in the Christian religion, they were cast into a cauldron of boiling pitch, fat, and wax. Finally they were beheaded at Nicomedia. Their bodies were left six days unburied; after which some sailors carried them secretly by night to their ship, and conveyed them to Rome. They were first buried on the estate of a noble lady named Rufina, but afterwards were translated into the City and laid in Constantine’s basilica, near the baptistery.
He who sought to ruin thee is now, O virgin, thy trophy of victory; and for thee, O Cyprian, the path of crime turned aside in to the way of salvation. May you together triumph over Satan in this age, when spirit-dealing is seducing so many faltering, faithless souls. Teach Christians, after your example, to arm themselves against this and every other danger with the sign of the Cross; then will the enemy be forced to say again, as in the Acta Ss. Cypriani et Justinæ: “I saw a terrible sign and I trembled; I beheld the sign of the Crucified, and my strength melted like wax.”
From The Liturgical Year, by Dom Prosper Gueranger
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