Saint Cornelius, a Roman, was the 21st pope to be elected to the pontificate after 14 months of a vacant seat of Peter. It was a turbulent time in the Church with persecutions and controversies. The prominent issue was the treatment of apostatized Christians and the Sacrament of Confession. Cornelius declared that the Church had the authority to forgive the repentants and readmit them to the Sacraments after they performed the proper penances. He was supported by St. Cyprian, bishop of Carthage. He also left important historical documents recording the size, state, and organization of the Church in Rome. In 253 he was exiled to Centum Cellae and martyred there.