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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Saint Clement I, Pope and Martyr, November 23

Saint Clement I, Pope and Martyr

Saint Clement I
Clement was chief pastor of the Church in Rome in the earliest days of Christianity, when to be bishop was almost certainly to live in persecution and die in martyrdom. He is believed to have been the son of Faustinus, a Roman citizen of the Emperors household, and to have received the Faith directly from blessed Peter himself. In the Gregorian Canon, Linus and Cletus are mentioned before Clement, and according to this order blessed Clement was the third successor of the Apostle Peter in the Roman See. It is supposed that he was martyred about the year 99. He is therefore reckoned as the first of the apostolic Fathers, and in the early Church his writings were esteemed next to the canonical Scriptures themselves. Holy Irenaeus testified that Clement had talked with the blessed Apostles, so that their preaching was still in his ears, and their tradition yet before his eyes. Origen identified him with the one whom Saint Paul, writing to the Phillipians, called his fellow-labourer. He is therefore venerated as one of the foremost bishops and shepherds of holy Church, and that both as to time and greatness. For it was such as he that shewed how a bishop in the Church of God should work and live and die.

By his teaching he brought many to Christ, and therefore he was marked for persecution. According to the Book of the Passion of Clement, he was exiled by Trajan to the remote City of Cherson, across the Black Sea, in the Crimea. There he found two thousand Christians at work in the marble quarries, condemned thereto by Trajan. Which same suffered much from want of water until Clement prayed and, whilst in the spirit on the mount hard by, saw the Lamb of God, with the water of life proceeding out from under his feet, wherewith they all quenched their thirst. And from this wonder many unbelievers were brought to Christ. For so a true pastor of the flock careth for the sheep, and useth their very necessities, whether in peace or persecution, to bring them unto salvation.

The same Passion of Saint Clement further saith that Trajan was enraged at the mighty deeds of this holy man, and sent an order to cast him into the depths of the sea, with an anchor tied about his neck. And that some whiles afterwards, when the Christians were praying on the shore, the sea receded three miles. And that on the ocean floor in a grotto of fair stone, shaped like unto a temple, they found the body of the Martyr resting in a depression like unto a stone coffin, and hard by the anchor wherewith he had been weighted down. And that thereafter many of the people that were round about came to the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. In which story is set forth the certain hope, which hath ever sustained Christians in all the trials of this life, that Christ careth for us , even in death, and preserveth us unto resurrection, whereby our worth in his sight is to be made manifest to all. The relicks of Clement were brought to Rome by Saints Cyril and Methodius in the time of Nicholas I, and buried in a church dedicated to him, which was built over the place supposed to have been his residence. Likewise in the Crimea a church was built to mark the spot of his vision and the gift of the living waters. It is said that Clement lived as Pope nine years, six months, and six days, and that he held two December ordinations, wherein he made ten priests and two deacons, and for divers places, fifteen bishops.
Antiphon on the Magnificat:
Let us all pray our Lord Jesus Christ that he may open a well of living waters * for them that confess him.
Be merciful unto the people of thy flock, O Lord, eternal Shepherd and Bishop of the souls of men; and keep us in thy continual protection; at the intercession of thy blessed Martyr, the holy Father Clement, whom thou didst raise up in thy Church to be thine under-shepherd, through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Antiphon on the Benedictus:
As this blessed man was taken unto the sea, the people did cry with a loud voice : Deliver him, O Lord Jesu Christ; * and Clement wept and said : Father, receive my spirit.

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