St. Clement of Rome was the third successor of Peter the Apostle as bishop of Rome, and therefore, our fourth Pope. St. Irenaeus, himself a Father of the Early Church, tells us that Clement “saw the blessed Apostles and conversed with them, and had yet ringing in his ears the preaching of the Apostles and had their tradition before his eyes, and not he only for many were then surviving who had been taught by the Apostles “. Similarly Epiphanius tells us that Clement was a contemporary of Peter and Paul. His service as Bishop of Rome was probably from about 92-101 A.D. There is a tradition that he was ordained by St. Peter and acted as a kind of auxiliary bishop to Linus and Anacletus, his predecessors in the papal chair.
According to apocryphal acta dating to the 4th century at earliest, Clement was banished from Rome to the Chersonesus during the reign of the Emperor Trajan and was set to work in a stone quarry. Finding on his arrival that the prisoners were suffering from lack of water, he knelt down in prayer. Looking up, he saw a lamb on a hill, went to where the lamb had stood and struck the ground with his pickaxe, releasing a gushing stream of clear water. This miracle resulted in the conversion of large numbers of the local pagans and his fellow prisoners to Christianity.
About 110 A.D. Clement was sentenced to a martyr’s death in the arena by the Emperor Trajan. According to a fourth century story, Trajan had banished the pope to the Crimea in the southern Ukraine because of his success in evangelization, where he satisfied the thirst of two thousand Christian confessors by the clear water miracle. The people of the country were converted and seventy‑five churches built. A frustrated Trajan then ordered Clement to be thrown into the sea with an iron anchor. But he had an impact even after his martyrdom because the tide receded two miles every year, finally, revealing a divinely built shrine which contains the martyr’s bones.
Clement’s papal letter to the Corinthians was written about 80 A.D. in an effort to restore peace to the Church at Corinith, Greece which had broken into factions and was intent upon firing some of their presbyters. The epistle is written in Greek and frequently cites the Old Testament. The tone of Papal authority and the theme of Apostolic succession are evident in the letter. Here are some excerpts. Look for evidence of papal authority as you read them.
Letter to the Corinithians (ca. 80 A.D.)Read More »