Pope. Who were the first ten Popes? St. Peter, St. Linus, St. Cletus, St. Clement I, St. Evaristus, St Alexander I, St. Sixtus I, St. Telesphorus, St. Hyginus and St. Pius I. What do we know about them?
These days everybody has been interested in this topic. We have a new Pope, Francis, and great celebrations are happening in Rome. Then, me too, I’ve been reading about Popes and I was surprise seeing the great confusion of the first years of the church. Is this confusion important? Apparently not, because two thousand years after, still we have Popes. Anyway, it’s curious to read about the first.
St. Peter (32-67). One of the twelve evangelic apostle of Jesus and named first Pope by him… “upon this rock, I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”
He died as a martyr in a cross too.
St. Linus (67-76). All the ancient records of the Roman bishops place the name of Linus directly after that of St. Peter. However, few things we know about him.
St. Anacletus (Cletus) (76-88). Again very few data and great confusion about if he was one person (Irenaeus) or two (Liber Pontificalis).
St. Clement I (88-97). He was called Clemens Romanus to distinguish him from the Alexandrian). He is the first of the successors of St. Peter of whom anything definite is known because he left one genuine writing, a letter to the Church of Corinth. His feast is celebrated 23 November.
St. Evaristus (97-105). Again discussions and confusions. In fact, the two decretals ascribed to him by Pseudo-Isidore are forged.
St. Alexander I (105-115). St. Irenaeus of Lyons, writing in the latter quarter of the second century, reckons him as the fifth pope in succession from the Apostles, though he says nothing of his martyrdom.
St. Sixtus I (115-125) Also called Xystus I. The “Felician Catalogue” of popes and the various martyrologies give him the title of martyr. His feast is celebrated on 6 April. He was buried in the Vatican, beside the tomb of St. Peter. His relics are said to have been transferred to Alatri in 1132, but other sources say that they are still in the Vatican Basilica.
After Xystus cam St. Telesphorus (125-136), St. Hyginus (136-140) and St. Pius I (140-155) but again, data are few and full of doubts and questions.
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