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Though our notes be short and few,
And our rests, too, oft and long,
We at last shall sing your song.
If our utmost humble powers
Here our daily prayers attend,
Glory, Lord, to Thee alone,
Here below, as there above;
May Thy joys, Great Three in One,
S. Clement, Bishop of Rome, and Martyr.
THE early history of S. Clement is very uncertain; but there is reason to suppose that he was by birth a Jew. He was the companion and fellow labourer of S. Paul; and was at Philippi in the year 62, when the blessed Apostle wrote his epistle to the Church in that city, as we learn from his own words, "I entreat thee also, true yoke-fellow, help those women which laboured with me in the Gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow labourers, whose names are in the book of life'." Ancient writers are agreed in attesting his acquaintance with some of the members of the sacred college; and Rufinus mentions him as
1 Philip. iv. 3.
himself almost an apostle. He followed the blessed Prince of the apostles to Rome, and was ordained to the episcopate by his venerable hands, in order, as some historians say, that during the frequent absence of S. Peter from Rome on the affairs of the Church, there might always be a person in the city ready to discharge the functions of a bishop. Others are of opinion that he was appointed a missionary bishop among the heathen at a short distance from Rome. He may have been consecrated to the pastoral care of the Jews in the city, whose government, in the infancy of the Church, was very different from that of the Gentiles. Or, again, he may have been only appointed to assume his authority on the decease of S. Peter. But, as S. Cyprian observes that none of the Apostles were properly diocesan bishops, S. Clement may be easily supposed to have been Bishop of Rome in the lifetime of S. Peter, without impairing the unity of the One chair.
But after the glorious martyrdom of SS. Peter and Paul, in the year 66, it is certain that S. Clement for some reason did not insist on his right to succeed to the vacant see; and S. Linus was elected Bishop. He is supposed to have been the same person whose salutation S. Paul sent to Timothy in his second Epistle from Rome, in 65'. Pudens and Claudia, who are mentioned with him, were perhaps his parents. He died in 78, and was succeeded by S. Cletus, or Anacletus, as his name is often written, who filled the see till the year 90. In the following year S. Clement was invested with the episcopal authority. The event was formerly com
1 2 Tim. iv. 21.
memorated in some parts of the Church on the 23d of January, which was called the festival of the chair of S. Clement.
The general persecution, under Domitian, soon after fell upon the Church. Its approach was made known in a vision to S. Hermas, who, in obedience to a command which he received at the same time, revealed it to S. Clement, that the faithful might be warned of the coming storm. Hermas was the author of The Shepherd, a book well known in the Church; and he is mentioned by S. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans1.
The Church of Corinth was then torn by internal divisions, some daring leaders having made a schism, and deposed the clergy who refused to submit to them. Many fell away from the faith in consequence, and occasion was given to the heathen to blaspheme. Those who remained stedfast besought the Church of Rome to assist them; but though it was grieved to witness their miserable condition, the dangers of the persecution prevented it for a time from rendering them any other aid than its prayers. As soon as days of peace returned, on the death of the emperor in 96, S. Clement, in the name of the Roman Church, addressed an epistle to them, in which he contrasted the happy state of their former unity with the sad consequences of their disunion. He exhorted them all, and especially the authors of the evil, to retrieve their lost blessings by penance, and holy humility, and submission to the will of God.
This epistle is celebrated among ecclesiastical writings. It was received and publicly read, not
1 Rom. xvi. 14.
only in Corinth, but in many other Churches. Some have even wished to include it among the canonical scriptures. In style and expression it is said to bear a great resemblance to the Epistle to the Hebrews ; and hence S. Clement has been sometimes supposed to have been the author, or at least the translator, of that epistle also. All the copies of this letter to the Corinthians in the original language had been lost for many ages, when Patrick Young, librarian to the king of England, in 1633, published it from the manuscript copy of the holy Scriptures which had been sent from Alexandria to K. James I. The writing is supposed to be as old as the Nicene Council. Its authenticity is verified by many passages which are quoted by ancient authors.
The labours of S. Clement were finished in the year 100. Eusebius and the other historians who mention his decease, are silent regarding any of its circumstances. But the Latin Church seems to sanction the nearly universal tradition that he died for the Faith, by enrolling him among the martyrs in the Canon of the Mass, with the holy Bishops who had gone before him. He probably suffered in the persecution which Trajan inflicted on the Church. His festival is marked on the 23d of November, in all the Western kalendars and martyrologies. The Greeks observe it on the 24th of this month; and in the Menology of Basil it is honoured on the 25th. The Sacramentary of S. Gregory contains this preface on the day of his feast: "It is very worthy, just, becoming, and salutary, that we should always and every where give thanks to Thee, O Lord, Almighty Father, Eternal God: and on this day which the pas
sion of the blessed Clement has consecrated, and made venerable to us: who, imbued with the preaching of the Apostles, educated in their heavenly doctrines, and illustrious in the dignity of their succession, shone forth a renowned martyr and a famous Bishop, through Christ our Lord."
There is an ancient account of his martyrdom, which relates that he was banished into Chersonesus, by Trajan, and was finally thrown into the sea, with an anchor tied to his neck; and that many miracles were witnessed at the spot. The lessons in the second Nocturn in his office in the Roman Breviary are taken from this account; but Tillemont and other eminent authorities have condemned it as apocryphal
A church in Rome was dedicated in his honour in the fourth age, in which Zozimus condemned Cœlestius, the disciple of Pelagius, in the following century. It was the scene of other councils; and is a station on the second Monday in Lent. It was repaired by pope Clement XI. early in the eighteenth century.
S. Gregory of Tours records miracles which were performed with the relics of S. Clement in Limousin. A bishop of Clermont in the fourth century is said to have placed an arm of the saint in a church which he built under his invocation. Those who adopt the Greek account of his martyrdom in Chersonesus, report that his body was translated to Rome in 867. When the Emperor Louis le Debonnaire endowed the abbey of Cava, near Salerno, in 872, he enriched it with relics of S. Clement, which he had obtained from pope Adrian II.
Another epistle is ascribed to S. Clement; but