Legends of the Blessed Sacrament – Facts Related by Saint Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr

[Saint Cyprian of Carthage]Article

(A.D. 257) In his work upon “the lapsed” the holy Bishop Cyprian relates, as an eye-witness, many remarkable cases of the divine chastisement on those who in word or deed had denied their Lord, and with this sin upon their soul either received, or desired to receive, the Holy Communion.

The parents of a certain child had fled from the persecution, leaving it in the care of a servant-maid. This woman brought the little one, who could not even speak, before the magistrates of the city. Instead of giving her the meat offered to idols they gave her a piece of bread dipped in the blood of the sacrifice. When the mother returned home, not knowing what had happened, she took her child with her into the assembly of the faithful in order to assist at the Holy Sacrifice, intending her child to take part in the same. The little girl, although unable to reveal what the servant had done, was seized with incomprehensible restlessness so soon as she was brought into the church. She wept aloud during the prayers and at the Holy Mass, threw herself from side to side, and appeared beside herself. When, at the conclusion of the holy service, the deacon who bore the consecrated chalice came to the child it turned from him, closed its lips, and refused to be communicated. Nevertheless the deacon let a few drops fall into its mouth; but the little one could not contain it. The child was guiltless, but what happened to her in the church led, as it appears, to the discovery of the wickedness of the servant.

A young girl, who had denied Christ, contrived to mix with the crowd to whom Cyprian was distributing the Most Holy Communion, and partook of it. The divine food was poison to her, she was seized with trembling, and fell down dead.

A woman who had lapsed in the same manner desired to open the coffer in which she kept the portion of the consecrated Bread which had been given her in the church. In times of persecution it was customary for the faithful to receive the Holy Sacrament in their hands, in order that they might take it to their houses, and, in the event of sudden capture, be so enabled to strengthen themselves. Now when that woman came to open the coffer a flame of fire issued forth, and drove her away in fear.

A man who had similarly lapsed presented himself and received the Holy Eucharist from a priest who did not know him; but the consecrated Host disappeared, and instead of the heavenly gift he held in his hand but a few ashes.

Now when the Emperor Valerian raised the eighth bloody persecution against the Christians, Saint Cyprian wrote to Pope Cornelius: ‘It is not only the weak but the strong who need defence, not only the dying but the living who need the Viaticum with which we send them to the fight, strengthening them for combat with the Body and Blood of Christ.’ Whilst the holy shepherd thus prepared his flock and strengthened them to die for Christ, he himself was carried before the judgment-seat, and after a firm confession of the Faith was beheaded in the year 257.

MLA Citation

  • Emily Mary Shapcote. “Facts Related by Saint Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr”. Legends of the Blessed Sacrament, 1877. CatholicSaints.Info. 27 November 2014. Web. 2 August 2021. <>