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Saint Cyprian was a Roman Catholic saint who lived in the third century in Northern Africa.  He was a bishop of the church and was eventually brought to Rome and executed for being a Christian.  He was born in the year 200 and was executed in the year 258.

Cyprian was born a wealthy pagan.  When he was 35 years old, he converted to Christianity and rose quickly in the Christian hierarchy of Carthage.  He became the bishop of Carthage in 248 or 249, which led many to oppose him because they felt that he had risen too quickly.  In the year 250, Roman authorities cracked down on Christians, requiring them to make sacrifices to the pagan gods.  They especially went after Christian leaders like Cyprian.  Cyprian then went into hiding to avoid being forced to sacrifice.  When he emerged, a schism arose between various Christians.  The Christian leaders who had stayed in the open during the persecution had granted free pardons to Christians who had sacrificed to the pagan gods.  Cyprian and others wanted people to have to perform serious penance if they had sacrificed to the pagan gods.

In 256, another persecution began.  Once again, Christians were being required to sacrifice to the pagan gods.  Again, Cyprian refused.  This time, he was exiled from Carthage.  Eventually, he was called to Rome and executed for his refusal.

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