Pope Clement

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Pope Clement
Papacy Began:
A.D. 88 or 92
Papacy Ended:
97 or 101

Saint Anacletus Successor:
Saint Evaristus

Saint Clement I, Pope and martyr of the first century, was a Roman, also known as Clement of Rome Clemens Romanus, so as not to be confused with the 3rd century Clement of Alexandria[1]. He was elected Bishop of Rome in 88, the third successor after the martyrdom of Saint Peter. He succeeded Saint Cletus as pope from 88 to 97, or from 92 to 101, and is considered to be the first of the three chief Apostolic Fathers of the Church, together with Polycarp of Smyrna and Ignatius of Antioch.

Bishop Saint Irenaeus of Lyons lists Saint Clement as a contemporary of the Apostles and witness of their preaching. According to tradition he was probably a freed man in the imperial household and was baptized by St. Peter. Origen identifies him as working with Saint Paul the Apostle as Paul's "fellow-labourer", and so do Eusebius, Epiphanius, and Jerome, but this Clement with Paul (Philippians 4:3) was probably a Philippian.

According to tradition, Clement was ordained by Peter himself. According to the early Christian writer Tertullian, he was consecrated bishop by Peter. Some early writers, indeed, thought that Clement was Peter's immediate successor, but modern scholars agree that he is Peter's third successor or the church’s fourth pope. He is famous for the Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians ascribed as written by him as bishop of Rome, while the apostle John was still alive, in the name of the Church of Rome to the Church of the Corinthians addressing the controversy of a developing schism of the younger clergy from the authority of the chief elder presbyters over them and admonishing them to humility and obedience under threat of sinning against God if they dared to disobey this letter as the word of God. It reveals that Clement considered himself empowered to intervene in another community’s affairs, the first such action known. The direct scandal of division had alienated a large number of the laity from the clergy. Deploring the unauthorized and unjustifiable split in the Corinthian community, Clement urged charity to heal the rift. His Letter achieved almost canonical status and was regarded as Scripture by many 3rd- and 4th-century Christians. It is held by scholars and historians as the only uncontestably authentic writing of Saint Clement. It has been adduced by the Roman Catholic Church as evidence of acknowledged Petrine Primacy as early as the end of the first century.

He is said to have restored the sacrament of confirmation according to the rite of Saint Peter. To his time is attributed the use of "Amen" in religious ceremonies.

Numerous Clementine writings, at various times added to the first Letter as part of the body of a Clementine corpus, show the high regard for Clement in the early church. He is credited with transmitting to the church the Ordinances of the Holy Apostles Through Clement (the Apostolic Constitutions), which is the largest collection of early Christian ecclesiastical law, reputedly drafted by the Apostles, but according to historians was written (or compiled from earlier second to third century sources) in Syria about 380.

In the middle of the nineteenth century it was the custom to identity the pope with the consul of 95, T. Flavius Clemens, who was martyred by his first cousin, the Emperor Domitian, at the end of his consulship. But the ancients never suggest this, and the pope is said to have lived on till the reign of Trajan. He was banished by Emperor Trajan to Pontus in the Crimea, and was thrown into the sea with an anchor around his neck.

St. Clement's name is in the Roman Canon of the Mass. He is commemorated as a Pope and martyr in the Catholic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, the Macedonian Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church, as well as the Syriac Catholic Church, the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church and all Byzantine Rite Eastern Catholic Churches, as well as within the Anglican Communion and the Lutheran Church. The Basilica of Saint Clement in Rome, Italy, one of the earliest parish churches in the city, is probably built on the site of Clement’s home.

Chapter IV The First Successors of the Apostles excerpt

... Linus, whom he has mentioned in his Second Epistle to Timothy as his companion at Rome, has been before shown to have been the first after Peter, that obtained the episcopate at Rome. Clement also, who was appointed the third bishop of this church, is proved by him to have been a fellow labourer and fellow soldier with him. Beside, the Areopagite, called Dionysius, whom Luke has recorded in his Acts, after Paul's address to the Athenians, in the Areopagus2 [2], as the first that believed, is mentioned by Dionysius, another of the ancients, and pastor of the church at Corinth, as the first bishop of the church at Athens. But the manner and times of the apostolic succession shall be mentioned by us as we proceed in our course. Now let us pursue the order of our history.

Chapter XV Clement, the Third Bishop of Rome

IN the twelfth year of the same reign, after Anencletus had been bishop of Rome twelve years, he was succeeded by Clement, who, the apostle, in his Epistle to the Philippians, shows, had been his fellow labourer, in these words : “ With Clement and the rest of my fellow labourers, whose names are in the book of life."

Chapter XVI The Epistle of Clement

OF this Clement there is one epistle extant, acknowledged as genuine, of considerable length and of great merit, which he wrote in the name of the church at Rome, to that of Corinth, at the time when there was a dissension in the latter. This we know to have been publicly read for common benefit, in most of the churches, both in former times and in our own, and that at the time mentioned a sedition did take place at Corinth, is abundantly attested by Hegesippus.

Chapter XXXIV Euarestus, the Fourth Bishop of the Church of Rome

IN the third year of the above-mentioned reign, Clement, bishop of Rome, committed the episcopal charge to Euarestus, and departed this life, after superintending the preaching of the divine word nine years.

Book IV, Chapter XXIII The Epistle of Clement, and Those that are Falsely Ascribed to Him excerpt

... In this same letter he mentions that of Clement to the Corinthians, showing that it was the practice to read it in the churches, even from the earliest times. “ Today,” says he, “ we have passed the Lord's holy day, in which we have read your epistle. In reading which we shall always have our minds stored with admonition, as we shall, also, from that written to us before by Clement.” Besides this, the same author writes respecting his won epistles as having been corrupted : “As the brethren,” says he, “ desired me to write epistles, I wrote the, and these the apostles of the devil have filled them with tares, exchanging some things, and adding others, for whom there is a woe reserved. It is not, therefore, matter of wonder, if some have also attempted to adulterate the sacred writings of the Lord, since they have attempted the same in other works that are not to be compared with these.” There is also another epistle attributed to this Donysius, addressed to his most faithful sister Chrysphora, in which he writes what was suitable to her, and imparts also to her the proper spiritual food. And thus much respecting Dionysius.

Book V, Chapter VI Catalog of the Bishops of Rome

“ THE blessed apostles having founded and established the church, transmitted the office of the episcopate to Linus. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in his Epistles to Timothy. He was succeeded by Anencletus, and after him Clement held the episcopate, the third from the apostles. Who, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been connected with them, might be said to have the doctrine of the apostles still sounding in his ears, and what they delivered before his eyes. And not only he, but many others were still left, who had been taught by the apostles. In the times of this Clement, there was no little dissension among the brethren at Corinth, on occasion of which the church at Rome wrote a considerable epistle to the Corinthians, confirming them in peace, and renewing their faith and the doctrine they had lately received from the apostles. After a little, he subjoins : “ But this Clement was succeeded by Euarestus, and Euarestus by Alexander. Xystus followed as the sixth from the apostles, after whom was Telesphorus, who also illustriously suffered martyrdom; then came Hyginus, and after him Pius. He was followed by Anicetus, and as he was succeeded by Soter, the twelfth from the apostles in the episcopate now is Pope Eleutherus, in the same order and the same doctrine (or succession1 [3]) in which the tradition of the apostles in the church and the promulgation of the truth has descended to us.”

quotations verbatim of Book III, Chapter IV The First Successors of the Apostles excerpt (p. 74); Chapters XV Clement, the Third Bishop of Rome (p. 90), and XV1 The Epistle of Clement (same p. 90); Chapter XXXIV Euarestus, the Fourth Bishop of the Church of Rome (p. 109); Chapter XXXVIII The Epistle of Clement, and Those that are Falsely Ascribed to Him (pp. 112-113); Book IV, Chapter XXIII Of Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, and His Epistles excerpt (p. 149); Book V, Chapter VI Catalog of the Bishops of Rome (pp. 173-174); from The Ecclesiastical History Of Eusebius Pamphilus: Bishop Of Caesarea, In Palestine, Translated from the Greek, by The Rev. C. F. Crusé, Assistant Professor in the University of Pennsylvania. With notes from the Edition of Valesius. Published London: George Bell and Sons, York Street. Covent Garden 1874. London: Printed by William Clowes and Sons, Stamford Street and Charing Cross. —In the public domain (boldface highlight added).

See also


  1. Saint Clement of Alexandria, Christian Apologist, missionary theologian to the Hellenistic (Greek cultural) world, and second known leader and teacher of the catechetical school of Alexandria.
    See Saint Clement of Alexandria | Christian theologian (britannica.com).
    Clement of Alexandria - Early Christian Writings (182-202) (earlychristianwritings.com)
  2. Crusé: Valesius footnote 2 Book III, Chapter IV (p. 74)—
    " 2 Areopagus was the senate or standing court of judicature in Athens, by whose laws and orders any new gods were received among them ; and therefore as soon as they perceived that Paul was a promulger of strange deities, they bring him to the Areopagus to have him examined what gods they were that he thus preached. Two judicatures they had at Athens ; one every year changed, made up 500 chosen men, of whom the republic consisted ; the other perpetual, which judged of murders and the like capital offences ; and this was in Areopago ; of which and the customs thereof, see Budæus on the Pandecta. Why it was called Areopagus, see St. Aug. de Civit. Dei. I. xviii. c. 18. The judges which sat in this court were called Areopagitæ, who were looked upon with such reverence, that an Areopagite signified proverbially “ an excellent person.” Gell. I. xii. c. 7. Dionysius was one of these Areopagites. "
  3. Crusé: Valesius footnote 1 Book V, Chapter VI (p. 174)—
    " 1 The word succession, in the parenthesis, is adopted by Valesius as the correct reading. "

External links

First Clement (Text) - Early Christian Writings (earlychristianwritings.com)

CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Pope St. Clement I (newadvent.org)

Saint Clement I | pope | Britannica (britannica.com)

Pope Clement I - Wikipedia

Pope St. Clement I - Saints & Angels - Catholic Online (catholic.org)

Saint Clement - Franciscan Media (franciscanmedia.org)

Saint Clement - St. Clement Pope and Martyr (stclement-rtwp.org)

Pope St. Clement I - Catholic Exchange (catholicexchange.com)

Pope Saint Clement I (catholicsaints.info)