Montanus and Lucius

(d. 259)

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St Cyprian (c. 200—258) Carthaginian bishop and martyr


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(d. 259),

martyrs. Their sufferings are recorded in a letter from martyrs in prison to the church of Carthage, written by at least two authors in rhetorical African style. In this persecution of Valerian nine named martyrs suffered, including two catechumens. There are several accounts of visions in prison. Montanus had ‘had words with Julian over a woman who had slipped into our communion but did not partake with us’. He maintained a certain coolness because of this quarrel. In his vision (or dream) Montanus saw centurions who conducted them to a huge field where they were joined by Cyprian and others. Their clothes began to glow and their bodies became even brighter. ‘Looking into my bosom I saw some stains and then in my vision I awoke. I told Lucian of my vision and said: “ Those stains are there because I did not at once make up with Julian.” ’

This story of human weakness among future martyrs is completed by the account of their sufferings. After several months in prison they all confessed that they were Christians and were led out to execution. Lucius, in poor health and of retiring temperament, died first. Montanus, sturdy in mind and body, cried out repeatedly: ‘He who sacrifices to the gods will be utterly destroyed, save to the Lord only’ (Exod. 22: 20). He also vigorously attacked heretics, saying they should learn the truth of the Church from the abundance of martyrs and that they should return to her. He then attacked apostates for hasty desertion, but urged the believers to hold their ground with courage and perseverance. ‘You have good models’, he said. ‘Let not the treachery of apostates lead you to ruin but rather let our endurance strengthen you for the crown.’ Just before he was beheaded he prayed so loud that pagans as well as Christians heard him. He asked that his blindfold should be given to one Flavian still in prison and that space should be reserved for him in the cemetery. Feast: 23 May.

A.C.M., xxxiv–xxxvi, 214–39;Propylaeum, p. 75; B.L.S., v. 121–2.; H. Delehaye, Les passions des martyrs (1921), pp. 72–8.

Subjects: Christianity.

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