Pope Linus

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Pope Saint Linus (d. ca. 76) was, according to several early sources, Bishop of the diocese of Rome after Saint Peter. This makes Linus the second Pope (or the first, if Peter is not considered to have been Pope). According to other early sources Pope Clement I was the Pope after Peter.


Early views on chronological order of first Bishops of Rome

The earliest witness is Irenaeus, who in about the year 180 wrote: "The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate."[1] The Oxford Dictionary of Popes interprets Irenaeus as saying that Linus was the first bishop of Rome.[2] Linus is presented by Jerome as "the first after Peter to be in charge of the Roman Church",[3] by Eusebius, as "the first to receive the episcopate of the church at Rome, after the martyrdom of Paul and Peter"[4] by John Chrysostom as "second Bishop of the Church of Rome after Peter",[5] while the Liberian Catalogue[6] presents Peter as the first Bishop of Rome and Linus as his successor in the same office. The Liber Pontificalis[7] also presents a list that makes Linus the second in the line of bishops of Rome, after Peter; 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 successor of Peter.[8] And while, in another of his works, Jerome gives Clement as "the fourth bishop of Rome after Peter" (i.e., fourth in a series that included Peter), he adds that "most of the Latins think that Clement was second after the apostle."[9]

The Apostolic Constitutions[10] says that Linus was the first bishop of Rome and was ordained by Paul, and that he was succeeded by Clement, who was ordained by Peter. Cletus is given as Linus's successor by Irenaeus and the others cited above who present Linus either as the first bishop of Rome or, if they give Peter as the first, as the second.

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