SAINT PAUL OF CYPRUS (DIED CIRCA 760)
Eastern Orthodox Martyr
The Byzantine Empire was an officially Christian state; there was no separation of church and state. With Muslim forces at the gates and imperial borders shrunken to mainly Asia Minor and the Balkans, the empire’s leaders pursued a distraction: the destruction of icons. Many faithful people refused to support Iconoclasm, however.
During the reign of Emperor Constantine V (741-775), imperial officials hauled one St. Paul into court and arraigned him. He had not commit a violent crime or a theft. Nor, he had opposed Iconoclasm. He had disagreed with the Emperor on a matter of theology. The court offered the saint a choice: desecrate a crucifix or die. He died. Agents of an officially Christian government burned a man alive because he refused to desecrate a crucifix.