Callistus I, Pope

Joel 4.12-21; Psalm 96; Luke 11.27-28

Callistus was a former slave who served as Bishop of Rome from c218 until his death, c223. He had been ordained Deacon by his predecessor, Pope Zephryinus, who placed him in charge of the church’s cemetery on the Appian Way, still known today as the Catacombs of
St Callistus. Callistus also became a sort of theology tutor to the relatively unlearned Zephyrinus.

As pope, Callistus made absolution after the performance of public penance possible for all sins, including the serious sins of adultery, fornication and murder. He also recognised the legitimacy of marriages between slaves and free citizens. This ‘laxity’ met with strong opposition from a ‘rigorist’ party, who elected one of their own, Hippolytus, as rival Bishop of Rome, the first ‘antipope’ in Christian history.

There is no record of the circumstances of Callistus’ death, but he is accounted to have been a martyr.

Posted in Daily Reflection.