Daily Saints

അനുദിന വിശുദ്ധർ (Saint of the Day) April 26th – St. Cletus & St. Marcellinus

അനുദിന വിശുദ്ധർ (Saint of the Day) April 26th – St. Cletus & St. Marcellinus

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St. Cletus was the third bishop of Rome, and succeeded St. Linus, which circumstance alone shows his eminent virtue among the first disciples of St. Peter in the West. He sat twelve years, from 76 to 89. The canon of the Roman mass, (which Bossuet and all others agree to be of primitive antiquity,) Bede, and other Martyrologists, style him a martyr. He was buried near St. Linus, on the Vatican, and his relics still remain in that church.

Date of birth unknown; elected 30 June, 296; died 304. According to the “Liber Pontificalis” he was a Roman, son of a certain Projectus. The Liberian Catalogue of popes (ed. Duchesne, “Lib. Pont.” I, 6-7) gives 30 June as the day of his election, and the years 296-304 as the time of his pontificate. These dates, accepted by the author of the “Liber Pontificalis”, are verified by that ancient source. Nothing has been handed down concerning the activities of this pope in his reign of eight years. We learn from the Roman deacon Severus’s epitaph in the Catacomb of Callistus ( De Rossi, “Roma Sotterranea”, III, 46 tav. V) that at that time new burial chambers were made in the chief cemetery of the Roman Church. Severus says that he had laid out a double cubiculum with luminare and arcosolium, “jussu papæ sui Marcellini”. This happened before the outbreak of the great Diocletian persecution ; for in this the Callistus Catacomb was confiscated, like the other public meeting-places of the Roman community. De Rossi assumes that the Christians blocked up the principal galleries of the catacomb at this time, to protect from desecration the tombs of the numerous martyrs buried there. The Diocletian persecution, whose severe edicts against the Christians were executed by Maximianus Herculeus, caused the greatest confusion in the Roman Church after 303. Marcellinus died in the second year of the persecution and, in all probability, a natural death. No trustworthy sources of the fourth or fifth century mention him as a martyr. His name does not occur either in the list of martyrs or the bishops in the Roman “Chronograph” of the year 354. Neither is he mentioned in the “Martyrologium Hieronymianum”. The “Marcellinus episcopus” on 4 Oct. in “Codex Bernensis” (ed. De Rossi-Duchesne, 129) is probably not identical with the pope. In mentioning Marcellinus, Eusebius uses an obscure expression; he merely says: “the persecution also affected him” ( ‘òn kaì a’utòn kateílephon ‘o diogmòs “Hist. Eccl.”, VII, 32). From this one must obviously conclude that the pope did not suffer martyrdom, otherwise Eusebius would have distinctly stated it. There were even later reports in circulation that accused him of having given up the sacred books after the first edict, or even of having offered incense to the gods, to protect himself from the persecution. But the sources in which this reproach is clearly stated are very questionable.

The tomb of Marcellinus was venerated at a very early date by the Christians of Rome. The precise statements about its position, in the “Liber Pontificalis” , indicate this. In one of the seventh century itineraries of the graves of the Roman martyrs, in the “Epitome de locis ss. martyrum”, it is expressly mentioned among the sacred graves of the Catacomb of Priscilla ( De Rossi, “Roma sotteranea”, I, 176). In the excavations at this catacomb the crypt of St. Crescentius, beside which was the burial chamber of Marcellinus, was satisfactorily identified. But no monument was discovered which had reference to this pope. The precise position of the burial chamber is therefore still uncertain. The lost “passio” of Marcellinus written towards the end of the fifth century, which was utilized by the author of the “Liber Pontificalis”, shows that he was honoured as a martyr at that time ; nevertheless his name appears first in the “Martyrology” of Bede, who drew his account from the “Liber Pontificalis” (Quentin, “Les martyrologes historiques”, 103, sq.). This feast is on 26 April. The earlier Breviaries, which follow the account of the “Liber Pontificalis” concerning his lapse and his repentance, were altered in 1883.

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