The Catholic Defender: St. Anacletus, The Second Successor To St. Peter
St. Anacletus (Cletus) was the first Pope to have been born in the city of Rome, though there is a Greek influence there in his background.
Perhaps this is due to his parents, it is not known if they were of both cultures.
The Apostles were known baptizing converts in the Tiber River that surrounds modern day Vatican City. St. Cletus came to believe through the preaching of both St. Peter and Paul. According to St. Ignatius of Antioch (Follower of St. John) St. Cletus was ordained first a deacon and then a priest by St. Peter. Later, he would be installed as a bishop by St. Peter in Rome.
In the year 80 A.D., St. Cletus was chosen to be the second successor to St. Peter, after the martyrdom of St. Linus, who had worked closely with Cletus.
While in office, St. Cletus divided Rome into twenty-five Parishes. It was St. Cletus position that smaller Parishes focused better on the Mass and teaching people taking care of their needs.
While serving as Pope, St. Cletus consecrated six bishops, ordained at least twenty-five priests, and 7 Deacons as he continued to build structure and organization into the infant Catholic Church. The last of the bishops Cletus consecrated was St. Evaristus who would one day become Pope as well. He would not be the next Pope (Clement I) but St. Evaristus would be the next after St. Clement.
It was during this time that Parishes began to spread all over the land, it is fascinating. I have been in a catacomb where Christians worshiped God celebrating the Mass built in the second century out of a rocky mountain side.
Likewise, I have been in the Rangely/Meeker Colorado parishes based in the American old West. What a treasured history we have in our holy Catholic Faith
St. Cletus believed his days were numbered as a result of the Edict of the Emperor Domitian.
Under the Emperor Domitian a terrible persecution against the Christians spread throughout the Roman Empire. Information is scarce and sometimes conflicted. Most historical scholars attest that Anacletus and Cletus are the same person, some believe them to be two individuals.
St. Cletus began the practice that a minimum of three bishops must participate in the elevation of a bishop. He also ensured that these consecrations were public.
A church was built by St. Cletus in honor of St. Peter which would be the foundation that the Emperor Constantine would build a larger church nearly 250 years later. Ultimately, this site would be the foundation of St. Peter's built in the 16th Century.
Because of the vast persecutions, Pope Cletus reserved burial sites for the martyrs. This has
become an important source for historical value. Excavation teaches us much what it was like under such persecutions. Literally multitudes died as a result of Domitian who was a monster.
Jesus told his Apostles that after the Holy Spirit had come to them, that they would be his witnesses going to all the world. St. Cletus worked hard and struggled to serve our Lord during very difficult times.
St. Jude wrote maybe a generation before, certainly in the lifetime of St. Cletus who knew and loved the Apostle St. Peter, he witnessed Peters crucifixion, "Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints."
St. Cletus did contend for the Faith giving his life for his flock. it was on a quiet day, hidden in the passage of time and without fanfare. The holy man of God was taken where only the angel's witness his holy death, the was no scribe writing about his martyrdom, but yet, even to this day, his act of sacrifice is still remembered in the Roman Canon of the Mass. His body was found from the dump that his torn body had been thrown and the Christians honored St. Cletus with Christian burial and today is next to St. Linus, his predecessor in St. Peter's Basilica.
St. Cletus died between 88 and 92 A.D. either he died in 88 A.D., or he died in 92 A.D. Hebrews 12:1 reminds us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who prays for us, who has great joy over us when we follow Christ as they did.
St. Clement will succeed St. Cletus in 88 A.D. I am not sure if Cletus died in 88 A.D. as some historians attest to or if he was taken away and placed in the Sardanian mines before his death and he lived on in harsh conditions. April 26 is his Feast day.