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Godzdogz

The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

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Remembering . . . Fr Cyprian Rice OP

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Fr Cyprian Price OP was born on 14 December 1889, the son of a Woodchester Baptist Minister. After his schooling, he joined the Levant consular service and was sent as a student interpreter to study Arabic, Persian and Turkish at Cambridge, where he converted to Catholicism. Despite his intentions to join the Dominicans whilst at Cambridge, he was prevented from doing so by the outbreak of the First World War, during which, he was posted to the consular service in Crete and the Middle East. By 1919, however, he was clothed at Woodchester in 1919 and made his first profession on 20 September 1920. Ordained on 19 July 1925, he was an obvious choice, when the Master General wished to send a friar to assist in Mosul, Iraq. Subsequently, in 1929 he joined the staff of the apostolic delegate to Persia in Tehran for three years and was regent of the delegation after the delegate’s retirement.

Entrance gate to Shiraz at the turn of the 20th century

In 1932, he returned to England and was posted to Newcastle for a year, before returning to Persia for the opening of the English Province’s house in Persia in 1933, in Shiraz, Southern Iran (the life of a Friar is not often without stark contrasts). Along with Fr. Dominic Blencowe OP, he rented a house in Shahpur Avenue in the centre of the city. Within a few months they began celebrating Mass in Farsi and published a small book of prayers, also in Farsi. Though the mission lasted only a short, due to its enforced closure by the government, their work was an inspiration for the future, and the Dominicans continue to have a presence in Iran.

The next twelve years were spent dedicated to Parish work in Newcastle, followed by three years in London, and then onto Stroud where he was superior, only to return to Newcastle once more.

1930s Newcastle

In 1947, the Master General assigned him to Cairo to teach Persian at the Pontifical Institute of Oriental Studies. Three years later he was sent to the Angelicum, the Dominican University in Rome, where he became Subprior. In 1951, posted once more to England, he taught Greek to the postulants at Hawkesyard, followed by assignations to first Pendleton, then Leicester.

In 1956, he was to be sent overseas once more, this time to become a penitentiary (a full-time confessor) at St Mary Major’s in Rome (where Dominicans continue to hear confessions to this day). During this time he also completed his major work, The Persian Sufis, published in 1964.

St Mary Major, Rome

Early in the summer of 1966, he became ill and returned to England for the final time. He died on 26 August, aged 76 with 45 years of profession and 41 of priesthood. He was buried in the priory cemetery at Woodchester. His was a life that answered the call wherever it took him.

Eternal Rest Grant Unto Him, O Lord
And Let Perpetual Light Shine Upon Him

May He Rest In Peace

An article by Fr Cyprian on the Persian Sufis is available here: http://www.khamush.com/sufism/persian_sufism.htm
A history of the Dominicans in Iran is available here: http://www.irandoms.org/frameeng.htm

Toby Lees OP

Comments

Muhammad Saleem Sethi commented on 26-Nov-2015 05:27 AM
His life and work is so inspiring. "The Persian Sufis" is a master piece for those who want an insight into the Sufi thought. My very preliminary reading of the sufi order was inspired by his work and Rumi's Mathnawi. May God bless his Soul.
Rune Norheim commented on 13-Dec-2015 09:13 PM
Being aware of the book "The Persian Sufis", I headed to the library belonging to the brothers in Oxford. Read as much as I could, before I sometimes later just had to own one edition. One of my favourites.

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