The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005
The Book of San Cipriano and Santa Justina
Books of Magic and Witchcraft
There are two St Cyprians. Both were third-century archbishops who died as Christian martyrs. One or both of them was a converted pagan magician who renounced sorcery to allegedly become a devout Christian. As part of that renunciation process, the magician burned his substantial library of magical texts. Apparently several centuries after his death, St Cyprian began to regret his actions or at least the book-burning ones. He decided that he’d better make amends and provide people with a book containing the essence of his old collection. Now a dead man can’t write, even if he is a sainted archbishop, but he can do the next best thing—he can channel.
According to the preface of The Book of San Cipriano the German monk Jonas Sulfurino wrote down the words dictated to him by St Cyprian in 1000 CE. Exactly who was Jonas Sulfurino? Who knows? But of course in order to be considered an official saint, by definition one must produce miracles. If a saint can produce miracles, who says he can’t dictate a book?
Various slightly different versions of this grimoire have been published under the same title or very close variations on the title. The manual became extremely popular in Iberia, where St Cyprian (San Cipriano) is considered the major patron of magic. He is also considered patron saint of the Romany, who have exerted tremendous influence over Iberian magical traditions. Much of The Book of San Cipriano is devoted to finding long-lost buried treasure in Iberia. The best-known edition was printed in Spain in the sixteenth century. Still very influential in Spain and Portugal, Europeans brought the grimoire to the Western Hemisphere where it has been incorporated into various Afro-Brazilian traditions, including Candomble, Macumba, and Umbanda. As far as I know, there is as yet no English translation.
The book is intensely Christian in tone with prayers addressed to San Cipriano and Santa Elena (St Helen, mother of the Emperor Constantine, credited with discovering the True Cross in Jerusalem.) Despite this, it still bears a reputation in some quarters as a “wicked book.” Some believe that owning a copy leads to evil deeds including murder and suicide.