The (in)famous Saint Cyprian of Antioch

Some of you may ask themselves what a saint might be doing on a blog about witchcraft, magic and folklore. Saint Cyprian of Antioch, not to be confused with Saint Cyprian of Carthage, is the very patron saint of occultists, necromancers and the like. It’s very interesting how, instead of deterring people from practicing the Arts, the story of Saint Cyprian did quite the contrary. So, who was this Cyprian and how did he become a saint?

When and where?

Apparently, Saint Cyprian lived during the reign of Decius, so he must have been alive around 249-251 AD. He was born in Carthage, in modern Tunis, Tunisia, to pagan parents who  dedicated him to Apollo. Cyprian traveled extensively during his youth, first to Mount Olympus, then to Argos, serving Juno, Taurapolis, in the service of Diana, Sparta, in order to learn how to conjure up the dead, to Memphis, and finally paid a visit to the Chaldeans.

Alright, I got it.  Cyprian wanted to make it into the Guinness  Book as the most versatile sorcerer. But what does this have to do with the church?

Well, seems that God had special plans for Cyprian, so he made arrangements in order for the saint-to-be to meet the maiden Justina, daughter of  pagans Aedesius and Cledonia. Justina was a follower of the teachings of Christ. Enter Aglaias, a weathy, young man who had an obsession with the fair maiden. Having been refused a couple of times, Aglaias, instead of giving up and going for the easier to get pagan gals, decided to pay a visit to the reputable sorcerer Cyprian. The latter conjured up a powerful entity and ordered it to ignite Justina‘s heart with love for Aglaias, but the maiden defeated the demonic enemy through fervent prayer. This happened again and again, eventually getting the increasingly frustrated sorcerer to curse the whole city with a well deserved emphasis on Justina and her family. But the girl prayed again, even more fervently and the citizens of Antioch, being ridden of the curse bowed to the power of Christ, including Cyprian, who burned his prized collection of occult books and paraphernalia. Eventually this new fad called Christianity got both of them tortured and killed, being turned into martyrs later on by the church.

How the church sees Saint Cyprian

 Cyprian was listed as a saint by the Catholic Church until 1969, when he was removed from the calendar due to lack of evidence that he ever existed.  He was officially removed from the list in 2001, along  with Justina. Before that, he used to be celebrated on the 26th of September.

Orthodox Christians still celebrate him on the 2nd of October, claiming that Cyprian performed miracles in Greece and Russia, The alleged arm of Cyprian is kept at Zlătari Church in Bucharest, Romania, where thousands of Christians come in pilgrimage every year, asking for help against sorcery.

How necromancers and sorcerers see Saint Cyprian

Saint Cyprian is very important for some categories of practitioners, especially those involved in ATR or those dealing with the dead.  There even is a book called The Great Book of Saint Cyprian, written in Portuguese and Spanish. However, it can be qualified as a pseudepigrapha, since it was first published in 1849.

Prolific occult writer ConjureMan Ali also published a work on Saint Cyprian at Hadean Press.

My 2 cents

I think that this type of legend will never die. The Internet is filled with “I used to worship Satan, but I would now die for Christ” stories, videos and so forth. I once saw a Greek documentary about a former Kiss fan that had turned his face to God and now bashed Heavy Metal (and Madonna, lol) as the tool of Satan. What I find amusing about the legend of Cyprian is that he renounced his faith, not because Christ was the right choice, the savior, not because it was the right thing to do, but because, in his eyes, Christ was a more potent godfigure. A lot of people in the Late Antique world must have been converted that way. And this story is, essentially, a tool for religious conversion. Also, after renouncing his heretical ways, Cyprian allegedly described  how he had seen the Devil. My guess is, given the times in which he supposedly lived, that he didn’t even know who or what the Christian Devil was. I’m not trying to bash this particular saint (the Catholics already did it), but take this story with a grain of salt.

On the other hand, if you do try to work with Cyprian, you will most likely stumble upon something. My guess is that it could be a legion spirit, or something acting in the fashion of an egregore, but since I have not tried it, I am not entitled to give a certain opinion. Neither have I the authority to tell people what to believe.

For references, please check my recommended readings page.