In the mid 3rd century, the church faced its most brutal persecution yet under the brief reign of Decius. Everyone in the Empire, Christians included, were forced to bend to Roman governmental pressure to sacrifice to Roman gods and then sign a document proving they did so. To refuse meant imprisonment or death. The wake of this edict and the Church's response to it reverberated for centuries. Cyprian of Carthage was a voice for the Gospel during this time. His words of grace and reconciliation proved him to be a vital defender of the faith.