Saints Cyprian and Justina
The martyrdom of Cyprian and Justina
Born 3rd century AD
Died September 26, 304, Nicomedia, Bithynia, Asia Minor, Roman Empire
Venerated in Eastern Orthodox Church
Roman Catholic Church
Feast September 26

Saints Cyprian and Justina are honored in the Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodoxy as Christians of Antioch, Pisidia who in 304, during the persecution of Diocletian, suffered martyrdom at Nicomedia (modern day İzmit, Turkey) on September 26, the date of their feast.


The outline of the legend or allegory which is found, with diffuse descriptions and dialogues, in the "Symeon Metaphrastes," and was made the subject of a poem by Empress Aelia Eudocia goes thus :

Cyprian was a pagan magician of Antioch who had dealing with demons. By their aid he sought to bring St. Justina, a Christian virgin, to ruin; but she foiled the threefold attacks of the devils by the sign of the cross. Brought to despair, Cyprian made the sign of the cross himself and in this way was freed from the toils of Satan. He was received into the Church, was made pre-eminent by miraculous gifts, and became in succession deacon, priest, and finally bishop, while Justina became the head of a convent.

Kiprian and justina

Cyprian and Justina, icon from Bulgaria.

During the Diocletian persecution, both were seized and taken to Damascus where they were shockingly tortured. As their faith never wavered they were brought before Diocletian at Nicomedia, where at his command they were beheaded on the bank of the river Gallus. The same fate befell a Christian, Theoctistus, who had come to Cyprian and had embraced him.

After the bodies of the saints had lain unburied for six days they were taken by Christian sailors to Rome where they were interred on the estate of a noble lady named Rufina and later were entombed in Constantine's basilica.


Saint Cyprian and the demon, 14th century manuscript of the Golden Legend.


The story, however, must have arisen as early as the fourth century, as it is mentioned both by St. Gregory Nazianzen and Prudentius; both, nevertheless, have confounded Cyprian with St. Cyprian of Carthage, a mistake often repeated.

The attempt has been made to find in Cyprian a mystical prototype of the Faustian legend. The Spanish author, Pedro Calderón de la Barca, took the story as the basis of a drama: "El mágico prodigioso."

The legend is given in Greek and Latin in Acta SS. September, VII. Ancient Syriac and Ethiopic versions of it have been published.

There is even a book, The Great Book of Saint Cyprian, full of prayers and spells, which is widely sold in the Portuguese and Spanish speaking world.

Veneration and Feast Day

Their feast day appeared in the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints to be celebrated wherever the Roman Rite is observed from the thirteenth century until 1969, when it was removed because of the lack of historical evidence of their existence.[1] Their names were also removed from the subsequent (2001) revision of the Roman Martyrology, the official but professedly incomplete list of saints recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Martyrology, however, includes five saints called Cyprian and two named Justina.

Traditional Roman Catholics continue to celebrate the memory of these martyrs as a Commemoration on the feast day of "Sts Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf and Companions, Martyrs" (the North American Martyrs) on September 26.[2]


  1. "Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 140
  2. see the General Roman Calendar as in 1954, the General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII, and the General Roman Calendar of 1962

External links

This article incorporates text from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913, a publication now in the public Cyprianus ro:Ciprian şi Iustina

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