Friday, October 14, 2011

St. Callistus I, pope and martyr

Today is the optional memorial of St. Callistus I. This great pope and martyr lived in the first part of the third century. He was once a young slave in Rome, who got into serious trouble. His master, a Christian, had put him in charge of a bank. Somehow, Callistus lost the money deposited with him by other Christians. In fear, he ran away from Rome. He was caught, after jumping into the sea to try to get away. His sentence was a terrible one: he was chained and put to hard labor in a mill.

From this punishment Callistus was released, only because his creditors hoped he could get some of their money back. But once again he was arrested, this time for having gotten into a fight. He was sent to the mines of Sardinia. When the emperor freed all the Christians who had been condemned to those mines, Callistus was freed, too. From that time on, things began to go better for him.

Pope St. Zephrinus came to know and trust the freed slave. He placed him in charge of the public Christian cemetery in Rome. This cemetery is now named after St. Callistus himself. Many popes were buried in it. Callistus proved himself worthy of the pope's confidence in him. St. Zephrinus not only ordained him a priest, but also made him his friend and advisor.

Later on, St. Callistus himself became pope. Some people complained because he showed too much mercy to sinners. However, the holy pope ruled that even murderers could be admitted to Communion after they had done penance for their sin. This great pope always defended the true doctrine of Jesus. He ended his life in 222 with a glorious martyrdom.


Patron: Cemetery workers.


Symbols: Window; model of church; stone; well; millstone or grindstone; papal tiara; a triple cross (papal symbol)

Fear can lead us to run away from the responsibility of our words and actions. We can ask St. Callistus for courage to admit and make up for our mistakes.

Take a virtual tour of the Catacombs of St. Callistus.

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