Pope Saint Callixtus I or Callistus I was pope from about 217 to about 222, during the reigns of the Roman Emperors Elagabalus and Alexander Severus. He was martyred for his Christian faith and is a saint of the Roman Catholic Church.
His contemporary and enemy, the author of Philosophumena (probably Hippolytus of Rome), relates that Callixtus, as a young slave, was put in charge of collected funds by his master Carpophorus, funds which were given as alms by other Christians for the care of widows and orphans; Callixtus lost the funds and fled from Rome, but was caught near Portus. According to the tale, Callixtus jumped overboard to avoid capture but was rescued and taken back to his master. He was released at the request of the creditors, who hoped he might be able to recover some of the money, but was rearrested for fighting in a synagogue when he tried to borrow money or collect debts from some Jews.
Philosophumena claims that, denounced as a Christian, Callixtus was sentenced to work in the mines of Sardinia. He was released with other Christians at the request of Hyacinthus, a eunuch presbyter, who represented Marcia, the favourite mistress of Emperor Commodus. At this time his health was so weakened that his fellow Christians sent him to Antium to recuperate and he was given a pension by Pope Victor I.
Callixtus was the deacon to whom Pope Zephyrinus entrusted the burial chambers along the Appian Way. In the third century, nine Bishops of Rome were interred in the Catacomb of Callixtus, now also called the Capella dei Papi. These catacombs were rediscovered by the archaeologist Giovanni Battista de Rossi in 1849.
When Callixtus followed Zephyrinus as Bishop of Rome, he established the practise of the absolution of all repented sins, for which he is "most renowned" but for which Tertullian criticized him.. Hippolytus and Tertullian were especially upset by the pope's admitting to communion those who had done public penance for murder, adultery, and fornication, as well as by his alleged belief in Sabellianism, from which he attempted to distance himself.
The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 7, reports that Hippolytus, a possible disciple of Irenaeus, a follower of the Novatian schism (he later reconciled with the Church just before his martyrdom), and elected as an anti-pope by his supporters, is considered the most important theologian in the pre-Constantinian era. However, The Catholic Encyclopedia also reports in "Fathers of the Church - Refutation of All Heresies - Book IX - Chapter 7" that Hippolytus accused Callistus I of permitting bishops married more than once to serve, women into religious study, pre-marital sex (allowing a woman's companion to be treated as her husband), contraception, abortion, and marriage outside of one's own social status. According to the spurious Acts of Callixtus, Callixtus I (or Callistus I) is noted to have allowed priests and deacons to remarry and allowed women and men from different classes to marry in violation of Roman civil law.
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