Clement, Pope & Martyr

Apocalypse 15.1-4; Psalm 97; Luke 21.12-19

St Clement, who died around the year 97, is considered to have been the fourth Bishop of Rome, and is venerated in the Roman Canon (the first ‘Eucharistic Prayer’ of the Ordinary Form of the mass) after his predecessors Linus and Cletus. (St Peter, of course, was the first to hold that office.) He is also named in the lists provided by the letters of Ignatius of Antioch and by Tertullian. It is possible (if unlikely) that he is the Clement St Paul referred to as a fellow-labourer in Philippians 4.3. Tradition has it that he was ordained by St Peter himself. He was arrested during the persecution of the Emperor Trajan and sentenced to hard labour in the Crimea; ultimately he was thrown into the sea, tied to an anchor (his emblem in art).

The only writing that can be with certainty attributed to Clement is referred to as the First Epistle of Clement. This is the earliest post-New Testament Christian writing. (A ‘second epistle’ is of doubtful authenticity.) This letter was written to settle disputes in the Church in Corinth. We know from St Paul’s New Testament epistles to the Corinthians that this was a church that could be factious and disputatious; Clement’s letter, written a generation later, helps us see that Paul’s conflicts with this church were not of his own making. Clement’s letter is an important step in the development of the Bishop of Rome’s universal jurisdiction.

Posted in Daily Reflection.