The Catholic Defender: St. Clement, The Third Successor Of St. Peter
With the death of St. Cletus (88 A.D.), St. Clement would be selected to be the third successor of St. Peter.
Beginning with the Twelve Apostles to include St. Matthias who replaced Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:12-26), the first three successors of St. Peter were each anointed as Bishop by Peter.
St. Clement would be the last major leader who would have actually been personally inspired by the apostolic age.
We know that both St. Peter and Paul were in Rome and that many baptisms occurred at the Tiber River that surrounds Vatican City today.
This would be where St. Peter would eventually be crucified. St. Clement was a Roman by birth, raised in the influence of Pagan Rome. At some point St. Clement heard the Apostles preaching and became a believer. St. Paul speaks of St. Clement as a coworker who labored with St. Paul.
Philippians 4:3 states, "And I ask you also, true yokefellow, help these women, for they have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life."
St. Clement became a traveler with St. Paul working for the salvation of souls. St. Irenaeus of Lyons, , writes that St. Clement "saw the blessed Apostles and conversed with them, and had yet ringing in his ears the preaching of the Apostles and had their tradition before his eyes, and not he only for many were then surviving who had been taught by the Apostles ".
After the deaths of Peter and Paul, St. Clement served as an auxiliary bishop to Linus and Cletus, but with their martyrdom, St. Clement would serve the Chair of Peter. St. Clement intervenes with a problem that had developed in the Corinthian Church writing a couple of letters to them responding to their issues.
Part of the problem dealt with the immoral practices concerning prostitution, a continuing problem since the time of St. Paul.
1 Corinthians 5:9-12 states, "I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men; not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber--not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. "Drive out the wicked person from among you."
There was a Pagan temple dedicated to "Aphrodite" that used Prostitution as a means to draw followers that confronted the infant Catholic Church. That was a problem, but within the Church, St. Clement intervenes on behalf of the bishops and priests who the people were either deposing or challenging.
St. Paul wrote the Corinthians, "I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me." St. Clement appealed to the Corinthians to remember the words of St. Paul in following Jesus.
An apocryphal work, The Shepherd of Hermas refers to St. Clement using his "office" to communicate representing the whole church (VisionII. 4.3.)
St. Clement had a special gift in reaching out to the Pagans for Christ, bringing light to a world of darkness.
With the conversion of a highly ranked Roman courtier (Sisinnius) and his wife (Theordora), by miraculous means, these signs and wonders God used to convert many people. St. Clement, despite serious warnings, continued working among the people, As a result, more than 400 persons of Roman rank soon followed. Again, Rome launched a massive persecution of the Christians under the Emperor Trajan who succeeded the monster Domitian.
The Prefect of Rome, Mamertinus inspired to go after the Christians, especially St. Clement, arrested Clement found in the Catacombs of Rome serving his people offering Mass. Mamertinus sends St. Clement to Trajan with the purpose of crucifixion, but that is not what the Emperor called for. After refusing to sacrifice to the false Pagan gods of Rome, Trajan wanted to make particular example of St. Clement banishing him to Crimea in the southern Ukraine to work the quarries of stone.
What was thought to be a severe punishment St. Clement used as a great opportunity.
Upon his arrival, St. Clement quickly began evangelizing to the prisoners who he found many dying of thirst. With all the suffering all around for lack of water, St. Clement knelt down and prayed.
St. Clement instinctively opens his eyes and looks up seeing upon a nearby summit where the ground was elevated, there was a strange lamb standing there looking at him scraping at the soil with one of its forefeet. Strangely, only Clement was able to see this lamb. Recognizing this as a sign coming from Jesus, the true Lamb of God, took his pick ax and struck the place marked by the lamb and beheld water gushing forth from the site. Mass conversions followed.
The whole region was being converted by the signs St. Clement worked that would inspire the faith for centuries building 75 churches and countless conversions.
The Emperor Tajan, not happy with the reports of renewed life taking place at the marble quarries, secretly had St. Clement taken aboard a boat in the Black Sea to be drowned with an old iron anchor attached to his neck.
St. Clement's remains have been discovered by St. Cyril about 868 A.D. and brought to Rome where he rests along with St. Ignatius of Antioch in the high Altar of the Basilica of Saint Clement.
Hebrew 12:1-2 states, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
In art, St. Clement is recognized having an anchor at his side or tied to his neck wearing papal vestments. Sometimes he is depicted near a stream. Liber Pontificalis states that St. Clement died in Greece in the third year of Trajan's reign, or 100 C.E.
The Feast day of St. Clement is November 23, and he is the Patron of Mariners and stone cutters.
A song lived by St. Clement: