Monday, November 25, 2013

The Second Pope

Clement being thrown into the sea,
by Bernardino Fungal of Siena (1460-1516)
If Clement truly was the second pope, following Peter (there are conflicting lists from the Classical Era), then he is too early for a Medieval blog, but he is connected to the previous post.

Clement was pope about 92-99 CE, during which time he penned one of the earliest known Christian documents outside of the New Testament, a letter to the Corinthians called the First Epistle of Clement, in which he advises them, among other things, that the recent removal from office of some presbyters was inappropriate, since they had not committed any moral offenses. He also suggests they consider the letter of Paul to the Corinthians. Paul mentions a companion named Clement in his letter to the Philippians (4:3); this may be the same Clement.

Clement was banished by Emperor Trajan to the Crimea. He continued to minister, organizing prayer and services among the inhabitants, establishing dozens of churches, and generally bringing Christianity to the country. A miracle is attributed to him at this time: slaking the thirst of 2000 men. Hearing this, Trajan had him thrown into the sea with an iron anchor tied to him.

One would expect that to be the final word on Clement and his martyrdom, but once each year the tide recedes so far that a chapel is revealed with the martyr's bones inside. This story, however, is not heard of until a few hundred years after Clement's death. (The story is known to Gregory of Tours.)

For this, he was named patron saint of sailors. Vikings embraced the story of someone who watched over sailors, which led to establishing churches and parishes of St. Clement as part of Viking settlements in England.

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