St Clement of Rome, pope, martyr (Feast: November 23)

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Home > Media > News > St Clement of Rome, pope, martyr (Feast: November 23)
St Clement of Rome, pope, martyr (Feast: November 23)

Documenting the reigns of popes, the Liber Pontificalis states that Clement had known St Peter. Origen and
St Jerome identify him as the Clement that the Apostle Paul mentions in Philippians 4:3. Third successor of Peter, his name occurs in the Canon of the Mass.

Legend holds that having been banished from Rome and sent to work in a stone quarry by the Emperor Trajan, when Clement discovered the prisoners were suffering from lack of water, he knelt down in prayer and looking up he saw on a nearby hill a lamb. Striking the ground where the lamb had stood, Clement released a gushing stream of clear water. Many were converted to the faith as a result.

Clement’s letter to the Christian congregation in Corinth (1 Clement) is considered the earliest authentic Christian document outside of the New Testament. It offers valuable insight into Church ministry at that time and into the history of the Roman Church. Indeed, Clement makes the first use of the word “layman” in Christian literature:
“To the high priest, indeed, proper ministrations are allotted, to the priests a proper place is appointed, and upon the Levites their proper services are imposed. The layman is bound by the ordinances for the laity.”

St Clement was martyred by being tied to an anchor and thrown from a boat into the Black Sea. In sacred art, he is depicted with an anchor at his side or tied to his neck, wearing papal vestments. The Anchored Cross is often referred to as St Clement’s Cross.

Notably, the Basilica of San Clemente in Rome is one of the earliest parish churches in the city and is believed to have been built on the site of St Clement’s home.

By Michael McKenna, Director, Office of Liturgy