Pachomius vs. Cyprian of Carthage

Welcome to the final battle of the first full week of Lent Madness XV. Today, it's Mediterranean Mayhem as Pachomius takes on Cyprian of Carthage. Early 4th century Egyptian monk vs. 3rd century martyred African bishop.

Yesterday, Joseph of Arimathea re-buried Lazarus (for the third time!) 72% to 28%.

We do hope you survive the weekend without us. But we'll be back bright and early Monday morning as the Round of 32 continues as Adomnan of Iona faces Joseph Vaz.

Vote now!


Pachomius was born in the late third century in upper Egypt to pagan parents. When he was a young man, he was conscripted to serve in the Roman army. Conscripts were housed in prison-like conditions. While essentially imprisoned, Pachomius and his fellow conscripts were tended to by Christians (apparently they took Jesus’s exhortation in Matthew 25 to look after prisoners seriously).

The care provided by Christians grabbed Pachomius’s attention and he vowed to learn more about their strange faith when his military service ended.

After his release from the Roman army in 313 or 314, Pachomius converted to Christianity and was baptized. He spent seven years as an ascetic until he had a calling to establish a community of monks. He thus established cenobitic (from the Greek, koinos + bios = common life) monasticism, wherein a group of monks live in a community but in individual cells and are governed by an abbot (up to this point, Christian ascetics lived solitary lives in the desert).

His first monastery was established in 320 with his brother and about 100 monks. They shared common clothing and food and had tasks assigned according to ability. To help govern the community, Pachomius created a rule–the earliest extant–that established the rhythms and patterns of the community. That rule was later adapted to the Ascetica, which is still used in Orthodox communities (it is similar to the Western Rule of Saint Benedict). Pachomius was a gifted administrator.

Pachomius was never ordained and monastics in his communities were not priests. Pachomius wrote and spoke Coptic. He never learned Latin or Greek. Yet Pachomius served as an abbot for 30 years and founded 11 monasteries and communities for as many as 7,000 monks. He is the first Christian to use a prayer rope, originally conceived as an aid for uneducated monks to accomplish their prayers.

Pachomius died in 346 or 348 of the plague. His feast day is celebrated on May 15 in the West.

Collect for Pachomius

Set us free, O God, from all false desires, vain ambitions, and everything that would separate us from your love; that, like your servant Pachomius, we might give ourselves fully to a life of discipleship, seeking you alone and serving those whom you have given us to serve; through Jesus Christ, our only mediator and advocate. Amen. (LFF 2022)

David Creech

Cyprian of Carthage

Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus, whom we know as St. Cyprian, was born in Carthage around the year 200. Although he faced persecution and torture, he persevered for his faith. A theologian and a bishop, Cyprian was the first bishop martyr of Africa.

During his lifetime, Carthage was an important city for trade, manufacturing, and agriculture. The port of Carthage saw trade with all parts of the known world–Asia, Africa, India, and the Mediterranean. This allowed Cyprian a global-knowledge and an understanding of others.

His parents were well-to-do pagans; his father was a senator. Cyprian was educated in the law. After a wild-boy phase, he practiced law and converted to Christianity in 246. Two years later, he was a bishop, and shortly thereafter, he faced persecution by Roman Emperor Decius, which forced him into hiding, although some refer to this as a retreat. Nevertheless, he returned to Carthage in 251, only to face more threats, this time from the new Emperor Gallus in 252.

He was no stranger to controversy in the early church. He was a strong believer in baptism and displayed his Christian beliefs in his daily living; for example, he organized medical assistance during a particularly nasty plague.

The ongoing persecutions greatly impacted him and his authority as a bishop. While he survived physical threats, he also found himself at odds over fundamental theology with the Bishop of Rome, Stephen. Pope Stephen’s death in 257 ended all those disputes, only to be followed shortly thereafter with more persecution, this time by Emperor Valerian.

Cyprian was a writer, orator, translator, teacher, and religious leader who displayed no fear. He was a prolific letter-writer, allowing him to connect with his far-flung flock throughout North Africa.

His expansive library of books, letters, and essays focus on ethics, history, and Christian thought; one that has been passed on through the ages is On the Unity of The Catholic Church.

Nonetheless, Cyprian did not survive Roman persecution. He was martyred on September 14, 258 in his hometown of Carthage. In the public square, he was tried and beheaded, so to make him an example to others. Legend says he gave 25 gold coins to his executioner.

His feast day is celebrated in the Anglican, Episcopal, Western and Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, and Catholic Churches. He is listed for September 13 in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2022. He is the patron saint of North Africa and the Berbers, a North African ethnic group, also known as Amazigh or Imazighen.

As for his remains, nearly 500 years after his death, Charlemagne sent his relics to France; parts of St. Cyprian are claimed in Lyons, Arles, Venice, Compiègne, and Flanders.

Collect for Cyprian of Carthage

Almighty God, who gave to your servant Cyprian boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (LFF 2022)

Neva Rae Fox


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100 comments on “Pachomius vs. Cyprian of Carthage”

  1. St. Cyprian found it his fate
    To face worship decreed by the state.
    Though that seems far away
    There are people today
    Who woud deem such theocracy great.

    1. *would

      Also, it's 8:02 AM and the voting choices are "Lazarus" and "Joseph of Arimathea". I'm looking at you, SEC.

      1. It's now 8:16 and voting continues to say Lazarus and Joseph. And, amazingly people are apparently voting.

  2. It asks my vote for Lazarus or Joseph of Arimatha. That was yesterday. I’d like to vote to either Cyprian or Pachiomas today. Thanks.

    1. Finally. And so is the spinning vote button/expiring too quick Captcha problem that prevented me from voting for Saint Joseph of Arimathea in the previous round. At least for today.

      Now can you do something about the vote selection circle being neigh impossible to select on iPads and iPhones?

      1. Hi, Miss Jan. I voted with no trouble on my iPhone. Be sure to vote from the website, not the email.

    2. Has that Lazarus risen from the dead again to mess with your technology!? Yeesh....I guess even on the other side of the grave folk can't deal with election results.

    3. Patience is a virtue. Why do all these folks log on at 8am & then whinge & moan when they encounter technical difficulties? I don't get it. Why the Rush? Is there a prize for the earliest voter? Why not vote during lunch or with an afternoon cuppa?

  3. Trying to vote this morning, I discover that down where you vote, are yesterday's names, not today's. You certainly are having troubels this yea.

    Please fix this one - thanks.

  4. Yesterday contenders, “Tomb Raiders”, are on today’s ballot (2/23). Can the AA (awesome admin) please make change to the Med Mayhem candidates? Thank you!

  5. From the comment by SEC member Tim on the 2/18 "Monday Madness" episode:
    "mistake" could be considered the oeuvre of Lent Madness

    1. Mike the Pillow Guy has identified the voting problem in Lent Madness: the SEC has been compromised by using Dominion voting machines that are corrupted by the late Hugo Chavez, causing millions of votes to be miscounted.

    1. Pachomius's call for patience might be very useful for all maddened Lent folk to heed, especially when things are not going as hoped...
      Thanks for pointing out these quotes!

  6. Saint Pachomius is inspiring, but Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus aka Saint Cyprian of Carthage gave that last full measure of devotion and on the day that coincidentally would become known as Holy Cross Day, he took up the figurative cross of martyrdom.

    Also, to go from being a brand new convert to being a Bishop in just two years is pretty remarkable.

    And I found the typo . . . it is in bio of Saint Pachomius.

    Oh, there is another one, my voting options are for Lazarus and Joseph of Arimathea . . . is Lazarus trying to resurrect his chances of advancing and convinced Saint Isidore of Seville, Patron Saint of the Internet, to assist him in this endeavor?

    Should I try to cast the vote for Joseph of Arimathea that it wasn't letting me fully cast (the vote button got stuck spinning) in the previous match up? I'm thing yes Saint Lazarus is, and no I shouldn't . . . lead me not into temptation.

    [If you like supporting to a non-partisan organization working to register, educate, and ensure access to the polls for voters in Texas, click the link that is my name to go to my Instagram post where you can make a donation to the League of Women Voters of Texas. Then go to and give them some money toward fixing the code on this here website, God knows they need it.]

    1. We need an edit comment option! And I need more sleep in my life.

      . . . thinking not thing . . .

      Fifth paragraph should read:
      Should I try to cast the vote for Joseph of Arimathea that it wasn't letting me fully cast (the vote button got stuck spinning) in the previous match up? I'm thinking yes Saint Lazarus is, and no I shouldn't . . . lead me not into temptation.

  7. I find a necessary humility in the desert monks, compared to those who engage in contentious theological debates. Perhaps there’s a place for both, but my vote goes to Pachomius.

  8. Both are worthy candidates, but I vote for the one who in founding the monastic movement has made such an impact on all Christians through the building of communities which support the continual return to God in prayer and worship, the conscious following of a rule of life, and so many ministries of hospitality and healing. Vote for Pachomius!

    1. After being raised in a pagan home and then conscripted by the Empire, Pachomius was so struck by the Christian example of care, he devoted his life to creating caring communities.
      What a life change a person can make through the example and love of another.

    2. Yes, Pachomius has my vote today because of his work to establish and foster communities of Christians working and worshiping together.

  9. I was kind of either/or this morning until I saw that Cyprian's feast day is my birthday. So I voted for Cyprian.

    1. Mine too. Like you, I was on the fence. I voted for Pachomius this time despite the birthday connection, but it looks like I'll have the opportunity to vote for Cyprian in at least one future round.

  10. Tough choice today. I'm glad I waited until the smackdown was fixed (at least on my computer).

  11. You had me at "gifted administrator" -- go, Pachomius!! The world today certainly needs more gifted administration.