Ad Limina Apostolorum (Blog) | St. Augustine's Library
Thursday, September 16, 2004

St. Cyprian and the Sad Legacy of Sanctity 

Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Cyprian of Carthage. This saint probably has very different connotations for me than anyone else, being as I spend most of my life between the pages of an Augustinian Vitae. To me, the name of Cyprian brings to mind two things - schism and heresy. Not, of course, that St. Cyprian could ever be considered guilty of either charge; no one plead more urgently than he for the unity of the Church, or defended her faith more valiantly. These charges belong, however, to those who unlawfully seized upon St. Cyprian's legacy after his untimely death. I'm speaking, of course, of the Donatists, those abrasive African secessionists, who touted the works of Cyprian and fought in his name. In the late fourth-century Africa into which Augustine was born, the name of Cyprian practically verberated with ideological and national potency. Think of Our Lady of Guadalupe for nineteenth-century Mexicans. This famed martyr-bishop left in his wake not only a reputation for sanctity, but a rallying cry for the unstained purity of the Catholic Church to shine forth against the filthy backdrop of the aging world. For the Donatists, this meant a brutal intolerance for relapsed sinners, an utter disdain for any cooperation with secular governance, and a skewed and moralistic outlook on sacramental grace.

Appointed bishop in a milieu where the legacy of Africa's greatest saint had been coopted for the cause of schism and heresy, St. Augustine could hardly sit idly by. The former half of his career as bishop was devoted to rescuing St. Cyprian's legacy, restoring it to its place in the fold of Catholic unity. Book II of his De baptismo, for example, is dedicated wholly to this subject. St. Cyprian, as St. Augustine proves, if could live to see this day, could never sanction the schismatic dissension of the Donatist party; on the contrary, he devoted his life to the unity of the Church, and was never ashamed to 'brush shoulders with sinners,' so long as all could repose in this same unity.

This got me thinking. The legacies of many of our great saints have fallen prey to misuse, being taken up as battle standards for causes the saints would have shunned with all their might. Origen of Alexandria spawned the Isochristoi, St. Cyril the Monophysites. St. Augustine had his Gottschalk and St. Pius X has, well, his Society. Even St. Augustine was not immune to the tendency. In fact, he had the privilege (or rather, the misfortune) of facing it in his own lifetime. The archenemy of his later years, Pelagius the Briton, had scurried across the European continent touting Augustine's early anti-Manichaean works (namely, On Free Will) as defense for his brand of theological humanism, before their author set himself to devoting the latter half of his career as bishop to refute the error his own works had helped to nourish.

# posted by Jamie : 9:47 AM


Under the Patronage of
St. Augustine of Hippo

Contact me:

Ad Limina Apostolorum: An ecclesiastical term meaning a pilgrimage to the sepulchres of St. Peter and St. Paul at Rome, i.e., to the Basilica of the Prince of the Apostles and to the Basilica of St. Paul "outside the walls".

"Augustine of Hippo Refuting Heretic"
(illuminated manuscript,
13th century)

"Jamie . . .
I could kill you in three seconds.
-Bishop Sheridan

Books Recently Read or Currently Reading

John Milbank's Theology & Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason (next in stack)

Colson Whitehead's Zone One (reading)

Michael Wyschogrod's Body of Faith: God and the People Israel (reading)

J. B. Schneewind's Invention of Autonomy: A History of Modern Moral Philosophy (reading)

Paul Hacker's Ego in Faith: Martin Luther and the Origins of Anthopocentric Religion (finished: 3 stars)

Edward Peter's Modern Guide to Indulgences: Rediscovering this Often-Ministerpreted Teaching (finished: 1 star)

Blogs I Read

Blogroll Me!


Missale Romanum
Parallel Text of Latin Mass
Order of the Mass
Today's Mass Readings
Collect of the Day
Mass Times
Liturgical Calendar
Liturgical Year
Catholic Calendar Page
Liturgy of the Hours (Universalis)
Liturgy of the Hours (Apostolate)
Parallel Latin/English Psalter
Psalms in Metre
Pope's Commentary on Psalter
Gregorian Chant
More Gregorian Chant
Schola Cantorum Bogotensis
Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music
Monks of Adoration
Catholic Liturgical Library
Treasury of Latin Prayers
Thesaurus Precum Latinarum
Litany Collection
Novena Prayers
Real Presence Association
Liturgy Q&A (Zenit)


Bible Gateway
Unbound Bible
New Testament Gateway
NT Gateway (Greek)
Latin Vulgate
More Vulgate Resources
Nova Vulgata


Patron Saints Index
Doctors of the Church
St. Thomas More (Litany)
Saint Bonaventure
St. Josemaria Escriva
Saint Gianna Beretta Molla
Saint Padre Pio
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Queen Isabella of Spain
John Henry Newman


Catholic Answers
Biblical Evidence for Catholicism (Dave Armstrong)
Cor ad cor loquitur (Blog)
Nazareth Resource Library (Akin)
Surprised by Truth (Madrid)
Catholic Outlook (Hoge)
Scripture Catholic (Salza)
Defenders of the Faith (Ray)
Envoy Encore (Blog)
Peter Kreeft
Mark Shea
Catholic Apologetics Bible Concordance


Holy See
Pope Benedict XVI Fan Club Catholic Hierarchy
Bishops of the United States
Diocese of Arlington


Catechism of the Catholic Church
Ecumenical Councils and Decrees
Papal Encyclicals
Church Documents (New Advent)
Code of Canon Law
Academic Theology Links (Georgetown)
Modern Theologians (Wabash Center)


03/01/2002 - 04/01/2002
03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004
04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004
05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004
06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004
07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004
08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004
09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004
10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004
11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004
12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005
01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005
02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005
03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005
04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005
05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005
06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005
07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005
08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005
09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005
10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005
11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005
12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006
01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006
02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006
05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006
11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009
08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010
11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010
04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011
09/01/2011 - 10/01/2011
01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012

Buy my Wife's Cabbage Patch Kids!

<< # St. Blog's Parish ? >>

St. Blog's Parish Hall

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

This site is certified 61% GOOD by the Gematriculator

This page designed by Christopher Blosser
© 2003-2004 Jamie