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Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”


Matthew 5:5


Clement, Bishop of Rome, was the third successor of St. Peter and reigned as pope during the last decade of the first century. It is believed that St. Clement is the so called “fellow worker” referred to by St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians. He is known today for his Epistle to the Corinthians, an exceptionally early and significant witness to the function an authority of the papacy in the Catholic Church. This letter marks the first time that the Bishop of Rome intervened effectively in the affairs of another church and it provides evidence that from the earliest days of the apostolic church the weight and authority of the Bishop of Rome was recognized, respected, and undisputed. In an amazing forthright statement Clement points out that bishops receive their authority from Christ through the apostles and not “out of the community.” He points out that all authority within the church is channeled through apostolic succession.

Traditions about the life of St. Clement abound in picturesque detail. One holds that St. Clement was exiled to the Crimea because of the skill and extent of his apostolic activities in Rome. He was compelled to work in the mines during his exile and he miraculously opened a supply of water to quench the thirst of his fellow slaves. He also managed to preach to them with such effect that there was a need to open seventy-five churches. In the year 101 A.D. he was martyred by order of the Emperor Trajan by being thrown into the sea with an anchor around his neck. Angels were said to have made him a tomb on the sea-bed, which was uncovered once a year by an exceptionally low tide. The anchor became known as one of the symbols of St. Clement.

Seven centuries later, the missionary brothers St. Cyril and Methodius, apostles to the Slavic countries, ‘miraculously recovered’ the body of St. Clement, piece by piece, together with the anchor. These relics were transferred to Rome in the year 868 and buried in the fine church of San Clemente, built on the site of an ancient Rome house church. Fine frescoes of the 9th century survive at San Clemente, depicting the Legend and Translation of the saint. St. Clement is often represented in the art with a tiara and a cross with three branches. The statue in front of McCollum Hall depicts him in this way.

His feast day is celebrated on November 23rd.

Statue of Saint Clement outside of McCollum Hall.  

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