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Cyprian the Holy Martyr, Justina the Virgin-martyr of Nicomedea (2 October)

Saint Cyprian was a pagan and a native of Antioch. From his early childhood his misguided parents dedicated him to the service of the pagan gods. From the age seven until he was thirty, Cyprian studied at the leading centers of paganism: on Mount Olympus; in the cities of Argos and Tauropolis; in the Egyptian city of Memphis; and at Babylon. Once he attained eminent wisdom in pagan philosophy and the sorcerer’s craft, he was initiated into the pagan priesthood on Mount Olympus. Having discovered great power by summoning unclean spirits, he beheld the Prince of Darkness himself, speaking with him and receiving from him a host of demons to serve him.

After returning to Antioch, Cyprian was revered by the pagans as a prominent pagan priest, amazing people with his ability to cast spells, to summon pestilence and plagues, and to conjure up the dead. He brought many people to ruin, teaching them to serve the demons, and how to cast magic spells.


The holy virgin Justina lived in Antioch. After turning her own father and mother away from the error of paganism and leading them to faith in Christ, she dedicated herself to the Heavenly Bridegroom and spent her time in fasting and prayer. When the young man Aglaidas (Αγλαΐδας or Αγλαϊος) proposed marriage to her, the saint refused, for she wished to remain a virgin. Aglaidas sought Cyprian’s help. He said that he would arrange for Justina’s heart to become filled with lust for the young man. No matter what Cyprian tried, he accomplished nothing, since the Saint overcame all the wiles of the devil by prayer and fasting.

Cyrian sent an unclean spirit to attack the holy virgin, and to arouse carnal passions in her, but she overcame them by the power of the Sign of the Cross, and by fervent prayer to the Lord.

Even though one of the demons, and Cyprian himself, assumed various guises by the power of sorcery, they were unable to influence Saint Justina, who was guarded by her firm faith in Christ. All the spells were dissipated, and the demons fled at the mention of Justina’s name.

Cyprian, in his rage, sent down pestilence and plague upon Justina’s family and upon the entire city, but this was thwarted by her prayer. The sorcerer brought tribulation not only upon Justina and her family, but upon the entire city as well. Rumors spread that the city was being punished because Justina would not wed Aglaias. Several people went to her and demanded that she marry Aglaias so that Cyprian would not punish them with more afflictions. Justina calmed them and assured them that soon the misfortunes which Cyprian caused with the help of the demons would end. Saint Justina prayed to God, the power of the demons was destroyed, and everyone was healed of their illnesses and afflictions.

People began to praise Christ, and to mock Cyprian and his sorcery. Convinced that the devil was powerless against the Sign of the Cross, and trembled at the name of Christ, Cyprian came to his senses and realized that he had been corrupted by becoming a sorcerer, and participating in every sort of wickedness, doing harm to others and deceiving them. He killed many with his spells and potions, and he murdered many men and women as sacrificial offerings to the demons. He was already a partaker of the portion of the demons, and if he had died at that moment, he would have been cast into the depths of Hell. The Lord, however, in His infinite compassion, saved him from the abyss.

Saint Cyprian saw that the devil whom he served was afraid of Christ. The Evil One admitted that he was unable to conquer the maiden because he was afraid of “a certain sign” upon her.

“If you take fright at even the mere shadow of the Cross and if the mere name of Christ makes you tremble,” said Cyprian, “then what will you do when Christ Himself stands before you?”

The devil then threw himself upon the pagan priest and attempted to beat and strangle him. For the first time, Saint Cyrian tested the power of the Sign of the Cross and the name of Christ, guarding himself from the fury of the Enemy. Afterward, he went to the local bishop Anthimos in profound repentance, and threw all of his books into the flames. The very next day, he went into the church, and did not want to leave it, even though he had not yet been baptized.

By his efforts to follow after righteousness, Saint Cyprian understood the great power of faith in Christ, making up for more than thirty years of service to Satan. Seven days after his Baptism he was tonsured as a reader, on the twelfth day, subdeacon, on the thirtieth, deacon. After a year, he was ordained as a priest. Shortly after this, Saint Cyprian was elevated to the rank of bishop.

Άγιος Κυπριανός και η Αγία Ιουστίνη - Ορθοδοξία News Agency

Saint Cyprian converted so many pagans to Christ that in his diocese no one was left to offer sacrifice to idols, and the pagan temples fell into disuse. Saint Justina withdrew to a monastery and was chosen as its Superior.

During the persecution against Christians under Enperor Diocletian, Bishop Cyprian and Saint Justina were arrested and brought to Nicomedia, where after horrible tortures they were beheaded with the sword. Saint Cyprian, fearful that the holy virgin’s courage might falter if she saw him put to death, asked for time to pray. Saint Justina inclined her neck and was beheaded first.

After seeing the torments of Saint Justina, a soldier named Theoktistos fell at Cyprian’s feet and declared himself a Christian, and he was beheaded with them.

The Hieromartyr Cyprian, the Virgin Martyr Justina, and the Martyr Theoktistos suffered for Christ at Nicomedia in the year 304.

The relics of Saints Cyprian and Justina are to be found in various places around the world. One of Saint Cyprian’s feet is at Iviron Monastery on Mount Athos. A piece of Saint Cyprian’s skull is in the church named for these Saints at Menikos Nicosia. A small piece of Saint Justina’s skull is there as well. Fragments of the Holy Relics of Saints Cyprian and Justina are in the Monastery which is dedicated to them at Phylḗ, Attica. The head of Saint Justina is located in the Monastery of Panagia Panachrantou (the All-Holy Theotokos) on the Greek island of Andros. Part of the hand of Saint Cyprian is located in the Zlătari church (Calea Victoriei 14, Bucharest Romania).

Saint Justina who was from Damascus, lived in virginity for the sake of Christ. Saint Cyprian, who was from Antioch, began as an initiate of magic and worshipper of the demons. A certain foolish young man who had been smitten with Justina’s beauty hired Cyprian to draw her to love him; when Cyprian had wed every demonic device he knew, and had failed, being repulsed by the power of Christ Whom Justina invoked, he understood the weakness of the demons and came to know the truth. Delivered from demonic delusion, he came to Christ and burned all his books of magic, was baptized, and later ascended the episcopal throne in his country. Later, he and Justina were arrested by the Count of Damascus, and having endured many torments at his hands, they were sent finally to Diocletian in Nicomedia, where they were beheaded about the year 304.

Apolytikion of Martyrs Cyprian and Justina

Fourth Tone

As a sharer of the ways and a successor to the throne of the Apostles, O inspired of God, thou foundest discipline to be a means of ascent to divine vision. Wherefore, having rightly divided the word of truth, thou didst also contest for the Faith even unto blood, O Hieromartyr Cyprian. Intercede with Christ our God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion of Martyrs Cyprian and Justina

First Tone

When thou, O godly-minded one, hadst been converted from magic art to knowledge of God, thou becamest a most skilful healer for the whole world, O wise Cyprian, granting cures to them that honour thee with Justina; with her, pray the man-befriending Master to save us, thy servants who sing thy praise.

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