ST. CLEMENT I, Pope and Martyr
St. Clement I (d.97) was the third pope after St. Peter. He wrote the famous epistle to the Corinthians, commanding them to seek peace and unity. Since St. Peter, the Popes have exerted a universal jurisdiction over the whole Church in continuity. According to apocryphal acta dating to the 4th century, Clement was banished from Rome to the Chersonesus during the reign of the Emperor Trajan and was set to work in a stone quarry and suffered martyrdom.
A letter of Pope St Clement I to the Corinthians
God’s gifts are wonderful
Beloved, how blessed and wonderful are God’s gifts! There is life everlasting, joy in righteousness, truth in freedom, faith, confidence, and self-control in holiness. And these are the gifts that we can comprehend; what of all the others that are being prepared for those who look to him. Only the Creator, the Father of the ages, the all-holy, knows their grandeur and their loveliness. And so we should strive to be found among those who wait for him so that we may share in these promised gifts. And how is this to be, beloved brothers? It will come about if by our faith our minds remain fixed on God; if we aim at what is pleasing and acceptable to him, if we accomplish what is in harmony with his faultless will and follow the path of truth, rejecting all injustice, viciousness, covetousness, quarrels, malice and deceit.
This is the path, beloved, by which we find our salvation, Jesus Christ, the high priest of our sacrifices, the defender and ally in our helplessness. It is through him that we gaze on the highest heaven, through him we can see the reflection of God’s pure and sublime countenance, through him the eyes of our hearts have been opened, through him our foolish and darkened understanding opens toward the light, and through him the Lord has willed that we should taste everlasting knowledge. He reflects God’s majesty and is as much superior to angels as the name he has obtained is more excellent than theirs.
Let us then serve in his army, brothers, following his blameless commands with all our might. The great cannot exist without the small, nor the small without the great; they blend together to their mutual advantage. Take the body, for example. The head is nothing without the feet, just as the feet are nothing without the head. The smallest parts of our body are necessary and valuable to the whole. All work together and are mutually subject for the preservation of the whole body.
Our entire body, then, will be preserved in Christ Jesus, and each of us should be subject to his neighbour in accordance with the grace given to each. The stronger should care for the weak, and the weak should respect the stronger. The wealthy should give to the poor, and the poor man should thank God that he has sent him someone to supply his needs. The wise should manifest their wisdom not in words but in good deeds, and the humble should not talk about their own humility but allow others to bear witness to it. Since, therefore, we have all this from him, we ought to thank him for it all. Glory to him for ever. Amen.
℟. Here was a prudent man who built his house on rock; there was no perjury in his mouth.* God chose him to be his priest.
℣. Behold a great man who in his days pleased God and was found just.* God chose him to be his priest.
Let us pray.
Almighty ever-living God, who are wonderful in the virtue of all your Saints, grant us joy in the yearly commemoration of Saint Clement, who, as a Martyr and High Priest of your Son, bore out by his witness what he celebrated in mystery, and confirmed by example what he preached with his lips. Through our Lord.