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E00966: Gregory of Nazianzus in his Oration 24, On *Cyprian (bishop and martyr of Carthage, S00411), of 379/380, mentions the miraculous discovery of the martyr’s relics, and reports miracles of exorcism, healing and prophesying performed by his 'dust'. Composed in Greek at Constantinople.

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posted on 10.12.2015, 00:00 by erizos
Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 24, On Cyprian (CPG 3010.24; BHG 0457)

For a summary and discussion of the full text of this oration, see E00887. Having finished his account of Cyprian’s life and martyrdom, Gregory now recounts the recovery of his relics and posthumous miracles.

17. (…) Τοιαύτη μὲν ἡ τοῦ ἀνδρὸς πολιτεία τοιοῦτος δὲ ὁ τῆς ἀθλήσεως τρόπος. Ἐπεὶ δὲ καταλύει τὸν βίον – εἰ θέμις τοῦτο εἰπεῖν, ἀλλὰ μὴ πρὸς Θεὸν ἐκδημίαν ὀνομάσαι τὸ ἐκείνου πρᾶγμα ἢ πόθου πλήρωσιν ἢ δεσμῶν λύσιν ἢ βάρους διάζευξιν –, θαυματουργεῖταί τι κἀνταῦθα τῶν προειληφότων ἄξιον· τὸ μὲν ὄνομα πολὺ παρὰ πᾶσι Κυπριανοῦ καὶ οὐ Χριστιανοῖς μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῖς τὴν ἐναντίαν ἡμῖν τεταγμένοις· πᾶσι γὰρ τὸ καλὸν ὁμοίως αἰδέσιμον· τὸ σῶμα δὲ ἀφανὲς ἦν καὶ ὁ θησαυρὸς παρά τινι γυναίῳ τῶν θερμῶν εἰς εὐσέβειαν, καὶ τοῦτο ἐπὶ μακρόν, οὐκ οἶδ’ εἴτε τιμῶντος τοῦ Θεοῦ τὴν φιλόθεον καὶ διὰ τοῦτο περιεχομένην τοῦ μάρτυρος, εἴτε τὸν πόθον ἡμῶν γυμνάζοντος εἰ μὴ φέροιμεν ζημιούμενοι καὶ τῶν ἁγίων λειψάνων ἀποστερούμενοι. Ἐπεὶ δὲ οὐκ ἠνέσχετο τὸ πάντων ἀγαθὸν ἴδιον ποιῆσαί τινος ὁ τῶν μαρτύρων Θεὸς, οὐδὲ τὸ κοινὸν ζημιῶσαι τῇ πρὸς ἐκείνην χάριτι, δημοσιεύει τὸ σῶμα δι’ ἀποκαλύψεως, καὶ ταύτην γυναίῳ τινὶ τῶν ἀξίων τὴν τιμὴν καταθέμενος ἵν’ ἁγιασθῶσι καὶ γυναῖκες, ὥσπερ Χριστὸν καὶ τεκοῦσαι πρότερον καὶ τοῖς μαθηταῖς ἀπαγγείλασαι μετὰ τὴν ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀνάστασιν οὕτω καὶ νῦν Κυπριανὸν, ἡ μὲν παραδείξασα, ἡ δὲ παραδοῦσα τὸ κοινὸν ὄφελος. Τοῦτο τῶν ἐκείνου καλῶν τὸ τελευταῖον. Ὄντως εἰς μέσον ἔρχεται ὁ τοῦ μὴ λαθεῖν ἄξιος, καὶ οὐ συγχωρεῖται φιλοσοφῆσαι τὴν ἑαυτοῦ κλοπὴν, ἐπειδὴ καὶ τῶν ἐπὶ τοῖς σώμασι τιμῶν κρείσσων ἐκεῖνος καὶ ὑψηλότερος.

18. Τὰ μὲν οὖν παρ’ ἡμῶν τοσαῦτα, καὶ οὐκ οἶδ’ ὅτι δεῖ πλείονα λέγειν. Οὐδὲ γὰρ, εἰ μακρὸν ἀποτείναιμεν λόγον, εἴποιμεν ἄν τι τῶν ἐκείνῳ προσόντων ἄξιον, καὶ ὧν ἕκαστος περὶ τοῦ ἀνδρὸς ὑπείληφεν. Καὶ ταῦτα, ὅσον ἀφοσιώσασθαι τὴν ὀφειλομένην ἐκείνῳ τιμὴν, διήλθομεν. Τὰ δὲ λοιπὰ παρ’ ὑμῶν αὐτῶν προσθετέον, ἵνα τι καὶ αὐτοὶ τῷ μάρτυρι προσενέγκητε, τὴν τῶν δαιμόνων καθαίρεσιν, τὴν τῶν νόσων κατάλυσιν, τὴν τοῦ μέλλοντος πρόγνωσιν, ἃ πάντα δύναται Κυπριανοῦ καὶ ἡ κόνις μετὰ τῆς πίστεως, ὡς ἴσασιν οἱ πεπειραμένοι, καὶ τὸ θαῦμα μέχρις ἡμῶν παραπέμψαντες καὶ τῷ μέλλοντι παραδώσοντες χρόνῳ. Μᾶλλον δὲ τὰ μείζω τούτων προεισενέγκατε καὶ οἷα τοὺς γνησίως ἐκεῖνον τιμῶντας εἰκός, σώματος κένωσιν, ψυχῆς ἀνάβασιν, κακίας ἀποφυγὴν, ἀρετῆς ἐπίδοσιν· (……)


Such was, then, the course of the man’s life and such was the manner of his martyrdom. And once he came to the end of his life — if it is right to say such a thing, rather than describe his situation as departure unto God, or fulfilment of his desire, or release from his chains, or laying down of his burden — there occurs on this occasion, too, a wonderful thing which ranks with the previous ones. Cyprian’s name was famous to everyone, and not only to Christians but even to those ranged against us – indeed good is bound to be revered by everyone alike – but the whereabouts of his body was unknown. The place it was treasured was in the home of a woman of fervent piety, and that for a long time: I do not know if that happened because God was rewarding the godly woman, and she therefore was granted to host the martyr, or because he was testing our own desire, to see whether we could endure the loss and forfeiture of his holy relics. But since the God of the martyrs did not suffer to turn a blessing belonging to all into a private possession, or to curtail the common good by his special favour to her, he made the body manifest by a revelation. This honour too he granted to a worthy woman, in order that women might be sanctified too, just as it was them that gave birth to Christ, and that announced his resurrection from the dead to his disciples – even so now with Cyprian, it was a woman that indicated his whereabouts, and another that surrendered him to the common benefit of all. This was the last of his good deeds. Thus he who was worthy of escaping concealment was made conspicuous, and he did not allow that his own abduction be tolerated, for he was greater and above the honours bestowed on the bodies of the deceased.

18. So much from us then, and I find no reason why I should say something more. For even if we spoke at great length, we would fail to say anything commensurate with his qualities and with the things each one of us knows about the man. Even these things we have recounted so as to barely fulfil the honour owed to him. The rest must be added by you yourselves, so that you may offer yourselves something to the martyr, namely the exorcising of demons, the elimination of sickness, the foreseeing of the future: all these things can be performed even by the dust (κόνις/konis) of Cyprian, together with the faith, as those who have experienced them know – for they have passed down to us this wondrous story, and will also transmit it to the ages to come. But you should rather make offerings even greater than these, such as are fitting for those truly honouring him, namely the denial of the body, the elevation of the soul, the avoidance of vice, the progress in virtue (……).’


Text: Mossay and Lafontaine 1981.
Translation and Summary: E. Rizos.

History

Evidence ID

E00966

Saint Name

Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (Africa) and martyr, ob. 258 : S00411

Saint Name in Source

Κυπριανὸς

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom Literary - Hagiographical - Lives of saint Literary - Sermons/Homilies

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

379

Evidence not after

380

Activity not before

250

Activity not after

379

Place of Evidence - Region

Constantinople and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Constantinople

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Constantinople Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory of Nazianzus

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Oral transmission of saint-related stories

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Acceptance/rejection of saints from other religious groupings

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future) Exorcism

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Ecclesiastics - bishops

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Contact relic - dust/sand/earth Discovering, finding, invention and gathering of relics Privately owned relics Theft/appropriation of relics

Source

Gregory was born in c. 330 to a wealthy Christian family in Cappadocia. He was educated at Nazianzos, Kaisareia/Caesarea, Athens, and Alexandria, and in 361 he returned to Nazianzos where he was ordained priest by his father, Gregory the Elder, who was bishop of Nazianzos. He was ordained bishop of Sasima in Cappadocia by Basil of Caesarea in 372, but stayed in Nazianzos, administering the local community after the death of his father. After retreating as a monk in Isauria for some years, he moved to Constantinople in 379, in order to lead the struggle for the return of the city to Nicene Orthodoxy. Two years later, the Arians were ousted by the emperor Theodosius I, and Gregory became bishop of Constantinople. In 381, he convened the Council of Constantinople, at the end of which he resigned his throne and retired to Cappadocia where he died in 390. Oration 24 was given in 379 or 380, during Gregory’s ministry as pastor of the dissident Nicene community of Constantinople, which was based at the church of Anastasia. On the manuscript tradition (395 manuscripts) and editions of the text, see Mossay and Lafontaine 1981, and: http://pinakes.irht.cnrs.fr/notices/oeuvre/7672/

Discussion

For a full discussion of the text, see E00886. In this section, Gregory summarises a version of the legend recounting the invention of Cyprian’s relics featuring two women, and a brief account of miracles performed by Cyprian’s dust (paragraphs 17 and 18). His phrase ‘as those who have experienced them know – for they have passed down to us this wondrous story, and will also transmit it to the ages to come’ is probably a reference to his source of information, very probably a corpus of texts about Cyprian and/or oral traditions concerning miracles. The story about the two women very probably echoes the account known from the Martyrdom of *Kyprianos and *Ioustina, but it omits some important elements of it, namely that the relics of Cyprian were taken by sailors to Rome, where they were buried by the noble woman Rufina (see E00886, E01165). This suggests that the version of the legend Gregory consulted had substantial differences from the extant texts on Kyprianos and Ioustina.

Bibliography

Text, Translation and Bibliography: Mossay, J., and Lafontaine, G., Grégoire de Nazianze, Discours 24-26 (Sources chrétiennes 284; Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1981), 9-85. English Translation and bibliography: Vinson, M.P., St. Gregory of Nazianzus: Select Orations (Fathers of the Church 107; Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2003), 142-156. Further reading: Delehaye, H., “Cyprien d'Antioche et Cyprien de Carthage,” Analecta Bollandiana 39 (1921), 314-332, esp. 330. Sabattini, T.A., "S. Cipriano nella tradizione agiografica," Rivista di Studi Classici, 21:2 (1973), 181-204.

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