Pope Clement I

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Patriarch Saint Clement I (fl. 96),[1] also known as Saint Clement of Rome (in Latin, Clemens Romanus), is listed from an early date as a Bishop of Rome.[1] He was the first Apostolic Father of the Church.[2]

Few details are known about Clement's life. According to Tertullian, Clement was consecrated by Saint Peter,[2] and he is known to have been a leading member of the church in Rome in the late 1st century. Early church lists place him as the second or third[1][3] bishop of Rome after Saint Peter. The Liber Pontificalis[4] presents a list that makes Linus the second in the line of bishops of Rome, with Peter as first; but at the same time it states that Peter ordained two bishops, Linus and Cletus, for the priestly service of the community, devoting himself instead to prayer and preaching, and that it was to Clement that he entrusted the Church as a whole, appointing him as his successor. Tertullian too makes Clement the immediate successor of Peter.[5] And while, in one of his works, Jerome gives Clement as "the fourth bishop of Rome after Peter" (not in the sense of fourth successor of Peter, but fourth in a series that included Peter), he adds that "most of the Latins think that Clement was second after the apostle".[6] Clement is put after Linus and Cletus/Anacletus in the earliest (c. 180) account, that of Irenaeus,[7] who is followed by Eusebius.[8] The meaning of these early reports is unclear, given the lack of evidence for monarchical episcopacy in Rome at so early a date.[1]

Clement's only genuine extant writing is his letter, 1 Clement (c. 96), to the church at Corinth, in response to a dispute in which certain presbyters of the Corinthian church had been deposed.[1] He asserted the authority of the presbyters as rulers of the church, on the grounds that the Apostles had appointed such.[1] It was read in church, along with other epistles, some of which would later become Christian canon; and is one of the oldest Christian documents still in existence outside the New Testament. This important work was the first to affirm the apostolic authority of the clergy.[1]

A second epistle, 2 Clement, was attributed to Clement although recent scholarship suggests it to be a homily by another author.[1] In the legendary Clementine Literature, Clement is the intermediary through whom the Apostles teach the church.[1] According to a tradition not earlier than the 4th century, Clement was imprisoned under the Emperor Trajan but nonetheless led a ministry among fellow prisoners. He was then executed by being tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea.[1]

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