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Pope Linus
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Pope Linus

Roman Catholicism identifies Saint Linus as the second Pope, immediately following the apostle Saint Peter. Tertullian names Saint Clement to have been the first successor to Saint Peter, but all other accounts unanimously have Linus as the first pope following St Peter, though they vary significantly on the date of the commencement of his papacy. Most sources suggest that Linus became pope in 67, while Eusebius gives 69, the Catholic Encyclopedia 64, the Liber Pontificalis 56 and the Liberian Catalogue 55. The discrepancy may be explained by Linus already being Saint Peter's adjutor during his lifetime, and some of the sources may incorrectly choose this time. He was Pope for eleven to fifteen years; the Liberian Catalogue gives a duration of 12 years, 4 months and 12 days.

Almost nothing is known of his life. It is said that he was born in Volterra in Tuscany. According to Zedler his mother was Claudia, his father Herculeanus. All of the writings which were thought to have been written by Linus actually turned out to be fiction or unproveable. The decree for women to keep their heads covered while in church is probably not issued by him, as was claimed for a long time. The apocryphal Latin account of the death of the apostles Peter and Paul is falsely attributed to Linus (it was actually written in the 6th century).

Sources also vary on the date of his death. Most suggest that he died in 79, while the Liber Pontificalis gives 67, Zedler 78 and Eusebius 81. Many sources—especially the Liber Pontificalis, but not Irenaeus—claim he died a martyr, but as there was no persecution in the time of Linus' death, most historians regard Linus' martyrdom rather improbable. Nevertheless, his memorial (feast day) is September 23, the day of his martyrdom accroding to the Liber Pontificalis. The same work also claims that Linus was buried on the Vatican Hill. In the 7th century an inscription was found near the confessional of St Peter, which was believed to contain the name Linus; but it is almost certain that this epitaph has been read incorrectly or incompletely.

Preceded by:
Saint Peter
- chronological list
Succeeded by:
Pope Anacletus