Before his conversion to Christianity, St. Cyprian was a pagan sorcerer who had direct contact with demons. Many people payed him to use his magic in order to get something they wanted, and Cyprian would use his authority among the evil spirits to fulfill these godless requests. One such client was a young man named Aglaias, who desired the virgin Justina, the daughter of a Christian priest.
The sorcerer invoked an evil spirit with a long resume of successful seductions, and this boastful spirit gave him some powder for the youth to sprinkle around Justina’s home. Once he had done this, the chaste girl was attacked by lustful thoughts and feelings, but she valiantly fought them off with prayer and dedication to
the Lord. When Cyprian saw that all the power of the devil was useless against a young girl who had faith in Jesus Christ, he too repented and was baptized, later even becoming a bishop. Both Cyprian and Justina were martyred by their pagan ruler. Now Christians pray to these saints to protect themselves from sorcery and satanism, which has always lurked around in the dark corners of society but is now showing its disgusting face nearly everywhere we look — television, cinema, and even public parades.
When people want their desires fulfilled without God, because these desires are ungodly, they have in times turned to the devil through magicians and sorcerers. Here are examples of help against witchcraft and sorcery from Sts. Cyprian and Justina in nineteen century Russia and twentieth century Greece.
The devout maiden R. was subjected to the same temptation as was once the holy Martyr Justina: she was pursued by a certain man who, seeing that all his efforts to arouse in her a mutual love for him remained futile, turned to a sorcerer, and with his help began to direct magic spells against her. Being forewarned about this through a faithful servant-woman, and beginning to feel in herself the action of the enemy’s power, this maiden had no one from whom to seek help except God, for she had no acquaintance with anyone of spiritual life. One night the above-mentioned servant-woman saw a dream wherein a tall monk entered her lady’s room and led her out in a monastic garment. Soon after this, Elder Anthony of Optina visited this family, although he had not known them before. In this important visit was clearly expressed the providence of God for this family, as well as the manifest activity of demons … When he entered the house (as he later wrote this maiden), “at first I encountered a whole crowd of demons who with abusive language forbade me to enter, but the Lord drove them away … Even though I did not know the history of your last two years, it was not for nothing that I advised you to pray to the holy Martyr Justina the virgin, for your situation then was very similar to hers, as I recently found out, and with my whole soul I thank God with tears that your holy soul has been delivered from the nets which had caught it!” The servant-woman, when she saw Father Anthony, recognized that it was precisely he that she had seen in her dream.
The Elder understood that the only salvation for this maiden was to go to a convent. But her relatives did not wish even to hear of this, and Father Anthony did not
find it possible or profitable to persuade them; and therefore he only prayed for her deliverance from the enemy’s nets that surrounded her, and by his letters strengthened her in her torment from the invisible power of demons, which had been brought against her by the sorcerer … By the prayers of Father Anthony, R’s mother unexpectedly gave her consent for her to enter a convent … However, the sorcerer boasted that he would drag her even out of the convent. And indeed, the young novice continued to feel within herself the action of the enemy’s power, having repose neither day nor night; and again she found strength in the prayers and counsel of Father Anthony. The young sufferer received final deliverance from the temptation of the enemy that tormented her through the prayers of the great contemporary hierarch, now reposed, Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow. Once he appeared to her in a dream, read the 60th Psalm, ordered her to repeat after him all the verses of it, and then gave her the command to read this Psalm daily. On awakening, she felt that the temptation which had been tormenting her for many years had completely departed from her.
(Elder Anthony concludes his letter to this maiden, who was then still suffering the effects of her experience:) “Be full of hope. You and I, even lying flat in bed, will be saved by the prayers of the saints for us; for if the prayer of even a single saint can give much help, then when all the saints start to pray for us, without any doubt the Kingdom of Heaven will be ours!” (Translated from Hieromonk Clement Sederholm, Optina Elder Anthony, St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1973, pp. 100-103, and The Letters of Abbot Anthony, Optina edition, 1869, pp. 381-2.)
In twentieth century Greece
From the time when, by the grace of God, our monastery was founded in 1961, our protectors, Saints Cyprian and Justina, have worked many miracles through their intercession, especially for those suffering from satanic influence or the effects of black magic.
A few years ago, after the Sunday Liturgy, while the abbot was still in the altar taking off his vestments, a young man, about 30 years old, came to one of the side doors of the iconostasis and in tears said: “Father, save me, help, my home is falling apart. I have been married 25 days now, but they have done something to me and I can’t get close to my wife. We live as brother and sister, and now we’re so much in the hold of nerves and quarrelling, that if it continues, we will separate.”
The abbot tried to calm him, and advised him that when he and his wife had repented of their sins, they should confess, and after fasting three days, they should come to the monastery so that a Vigil and Divine Liturgy could be served in their name.
They did as instructed, prepared and came; the Vigil was celebrated and prayers of exorcism were read over them, and in the morning they left for home. Next Sunday the young man came to the monastery again, but this time full of joy, and he told with great emotion what had happened. “When we left here on Thursday
morning, we returned home and found my father very disturbed. When I asked him what was wrong, he said: ‘Something fearful happened last night. While I was sleeping, there appeared before me a tall old man with gray hair and beard, who woke me up and said: “Get up, my child, and dig there (he showed me the exact place) to find your son’s magic charm.” After that he disappeared. I was so frightened that I stayed in bed waiting for it to get light.'” (It is evident that the tall old man who appeared was St. Cyprian, who went, while the Vigil was being celebrated and the prayers being read, to the couple’s house to reveal to his father this demonic business.)
The young man continued: “I asked my father where the old man told him to dig. He showed me, and forty centimeters down I found these strange things.” He gave the abbot a white handkerchief with a large knot, which proved when opened to contain the dust of a dead body and the couple’s initials. Exorcisms were read over it, and the young man left again. Two days later the abbot saw an old woman kneeling and weeping before the icon of St. Cyprian and St. Justina. When
asked what had happened, she replied that she was the mother of the young man from Aspopyrgo, and from the day they had come to the monastery, they had been completely well, and were living in great happiness. She had come to thank the Saints, full of gratitude for the great gift they had given. (By Archimandrite [now Metropolitan] Cyprian of the Monastery of Sts. Cyprian and Justina; translation first published in The Old Calendarist, monthly publication of the St. George Information Service, London, England, June, 1975.)
From The Orthodox Word, Vol. 12, No. 5 (70) (September-October, 1976), pp. 135-142, 167-176.