I Timothy 1.15-17; Ps 112; Luke 6.43-49
Cornelius was pope from 251-3. He was elected after a yearlong interregnum during a lull in the persecution of the Church by Emperor Decius. His papacy was marked by strife within the Church concerning the attitude that should be taken to those who had lapsed from the faith during persecution but who wanted to return to the Church when persecution abated. Cornelius advocated forgiveness of the apostates and readmission to Communion after penance. In 253 he was banished to Centumcellæ (on the Tyrrhenian Sea) when the Decian persecution resumed; he is accounted a martyr because he died in exile.
Cyprian (c200-258), a Berber who in 249 became Bishop of Carthage, was learned and articulate and was considered the preëminent Latin Christian writer prior to St Jerome and
St Augustine. Cyprian supported Pope Cornelius in his efforts to restore the lapsed to the bosom of the Church. Ironically, though, Cyprian was opposed in his own diocese by a party of “laxists” who urged the reconciliation of the lapsed without any penance. Cyprian was martyred under the wave of persecutions that broke out under the Roman Emperor Valerian in 256. Cyprian was banished, imprisoned, and then beheaded by the sword. He is named in the Roman Canon alongside Cornelius.