Friday, July 29, 2011
Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus
It would be a very, very short book. I think I can tell you everything I know about all four of them right now, so don't get too comfortable. You'll have to jump up and find something else to do in just a moment.
Linus, Cletus and Clement are the first three Popes after St. Peter, but not necessarily in that order. It could be Cletus, Linus, Clement. Or maybe even Linus, Clement Cletus...anyhow. They are the first three Popes after St. Peter. I know I said that already, I'm padding.
There is a Sixtus I who is Pope in the very early church ( he was number 7), but at Mass we are referring to Sixtus II. I have a hunch about why we name the first three Popes after Peter and then skip about 200 years to St. Sixtus II.
Every single Pope up to and including Sixtus II was a martyr. St. Clement had an anchor tied around his neck. He was tossed into the sea. We don't know what happened to Linus, only that he is listed as a martyr.
You have to hand it to all those individuals who didn't say, "No, thanks" to wearing the Papal crown considering that the job always included martyrdom as a retirement plan.
St. Sixtus II was dragged out with six other people and beheaded. When he realized what was going to happen, he made sure he went first, in the hope that maybe the Emperor Valerian would be happy with a headless Pope and stop there. It didn't work.
That's him on the left saying, "Excuse me, I'd like to go first." Emperor Valerian came to a bad end himself when the Emperor of Persia did Valerian in.
After that the death of St. Sixtus II, the persecution of Christians was officially ended by the Emperor of Rome. Hallelujah.
I believe that by listing the first three and then jumping to the last martyr Pope, we are honoring all those Popes who suffered for the Faith in between. Twenty four Popes went straight to Heaven, one after another, after another.
Really makes you pause, doesn't it about all the silly "war on Christmas" type thinking, doesn't it?