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Pope Clement I
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Pope Clement I

Saint Clement I, also called Clement of Rome and Clemens Romanus, was either the third or fourth pope, before or after Anacletus. He is also considered one of the Apostolic Fathers.

There is no ground for identifying him with the Clement mentioned in Philippians 4:3. He may have been a freedman of T. Flavius Clemens, who was consul with his cousin, the Emperor Domitian. The Shepherd of Hermas (Vision II. 4. 3) mentions a Clement whose office it is to communicate with other churches, and this function agrees well with what we find in the letter to the church at Corinth, Greece ascribed to him (see below). The Liber Pontificalis believes that he had personally known Saint Peter, and states that he wrote two letters and died in Greece in the third year of Trajan's reign, or 100. A 9th century tradition says he was martyred in the Crimea in 102, but earlier sources say he died a natural death. He is commemorated on November 23.

In art, Saint Clement can be recognized as a pope with an anchor and fish. Sometimes there is an addition of a millstone; keys; a fountain that sprung forth at his prayers; or with a book. He might be shown lying in a temple in the sea.

Writings

Clement is perhaps best known by a letter he wrote to the Church in Cornith. The letter does not contain Clement's name, instead being addressed by "the Church of God which sojourneth in Rome to the Church of God which sojourneth in Corinth." Nevertheless, it is almost universally accepted that Clement wrote the letter circa 96. The letter was occasioned by a dispute in in Cornith, which had led to the removal from office of several presbyters. Since none of the presbyters were charged with moral offences, Clement charged that their removal was high-handed and unjustifiable. The letter was extremely lengthy—it was twice as long as the Epistle to the Hebrews—and includes several references to the Old Testament. Clement's demonstrates a familiarity with the Old Testament that points to his being a Christian of long standing, rather than a recent convert.

The epistle was publicly read from time to time at Corinth, and by the 4th century this usage had spread to other churches. We even find it included in the famous Codex Alexandrianus of the New Testament, but this does not imply that the epistle ever reached canonical rank. This work was translated into at least three languages in ancient times: a translation from the 2nd or 3rd century was found in an 11th century manuscript in Namur, Belgium and published by G. Morin in 1894; a Syriac manuscript, now at Cambridge University, was found by R. L. Bensly in 1876, which he translated in 1899; and a Coptic translation has survived in two papyrus copies, one published by C. Schmidt in 1908 and the other by F. Rösch in 1910.

A second epistle, better described as a homily and written in the second century, has been traditionally ascribed to Clement, but recent scholarship discredits his authorship.

Clement is the hero of an early Christian romance or novel that has survived in at least two different versions known as the Clementine literature, where he is identified with Domitian's cousin T. Flavius Clemens.

Preceded by:
Pope Anacletus
Pope
- chronological list
Succeeded by:
Pope Evaristus