Pope and Martyr
Pope and Martyr
Saint Cletus was the third Bishop of Rome, succeeding to Saint Linus, which circumstance alone commends his eminent virtue among the first disciples of Saint Peter in the West. A church and a hospital founded by him, though ruined and rebuilt several times, survived until the 18th century, and the memory of his charity was so well conserved by the Romans, that the Crucifers who then were still serving in his hospice, considered him their founder.
Saint Cletus was martyred after the peaceful reign of the Emperor Titus, when Domitian replaced him; the date was April 26th of the year 89. He was buried near Saint Peter in the Vatican, where his relics are still.
Saint Marcellinus, who was of Roman origin, succeeded Saint Caius as bishop of Rome in 296, about the time that Diocletian set himself up for a deity, impiously claiming divine honors. In those stormy times of persecution, seventeen thousand Christians of all ages and both sexes were put to death in the various provinces, churches were destroyed, and heaven was populated with martyrs.
Saint Marcellinus was beheaded with three others, and their bodies remained without burial in the forum for thirty-six days, to strike fear into the hearts of their fellows. It was on the 26th of April in the year 304 that a priest named Marcel came at night, with other priests and deacons of Rome, to gather up their relics, which they laid to rest in the Priscilla catacomb.
Reflection. It is a fundamental maxim of Christian morality, and a truth which Christ has established in the clearest terms by innumerable passages of the Gospel, that the cross, sufferings and mortification are the road to eternal happiness. Our Lord Himself, our model and our Head, walked on that path, and His great Apostle reminds us that He entered into bliss only by His blood and His Cross. (Heb. 9:12)