Cyprian was born of unbelieving parents, and was himself educated in polytheism. He became famous in Carthage as a teacher of philosophy and rhetoric. He was married, but when he became a Christian he ceased to live with his wife, dedicating himself to the constant study of Holy Scripture and to spiritual perfection. Because of his unusual virtues, he was chosen as a presbyter and soon after that as a bishop. He was as merciful toward Christians as he was firm toward heretics. Guided by the Holy Spirit, he wrote many works of instruction. He wrote against idolatry, Judaism and the Novatian heresy with especial vehemence. His works on virginity are especially beautiful and sweet, as are also his writings on martyrdom, charity, patience, the Lord’s Prayer and other edifying themes. He was martyred, and reposed in the time of Valerian, in the year 258. Before his death he prayed to God, blessed the people, and left twenty-five gold coins to be given to the executioner who would behead him – the astonishing greatness and generosity of a true Christian!