Saint of the Day ~ October 14

SAINT CALLISTUS I (2nd century-222), pope and martyr – Patron saint of cemetery workers

Today, the Church honors Saint Callistus I, a slave in an imperial Roman household who became the 15th successor to Saint Peter as the Vicar of Christ.

Callistus grew up as a Christian slave. He was entrusted with taking care of his master’s banking business; but when the money was lost, Callistus was falsely accused of stealing. He attempted to flee, but, when discovered, was sentenced to serve in the mines of Sardinia.

Callistus, together with a number of other Christians, was later ransomed from the mines, thereby becoming a free man. Due to his knowledge of business, Callistus was introduced to Pope Zephyrinus, who put him in charge of the Roman public burial grounds (which are today still called the Cemetery of Saint Callistus). In addition, the pope ordained Callistus as archdeacon, assisting the pope in the business of the Church.

Upon the death of Pope Zephyrinus on December 20, 217, Callistus was chosen as his successor, whose papacy was anything but peaceful. Hippolytus, a well-educated Roman theologian, accused Pope Callistus of sympathizing with heretics, and resented the new pope’s clarification that even the most serious sins could be absolved after sincere confession.

Pope Callistus’ assertion of Divine Mercy also scandalized Tertullian, a Church writer who was already in schism from the Church in Carthage, who erroneously believed that certain sins were too serious to be forgiven.

The pope could not persuade Hippolytus, Tertullian or others of the merciful nature of God’s Love or of his own rightful authority as pope of the Church, for Hippolytus broke from the Church of Rome and became an antipope.

Pope Callistus I was martyred during a local disturbance in Trastevere, an area within Rome, on what is believed to be October 14, 222, and his name is listed in the earliest martyrology of the Church. His remains are interred in the “Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere”.

We commemorate his feastday on October 14.

(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and newadvent.org)

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PRAYER

(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Saint Callistus)

“God of mercy, hear the prayers of Your people that we may be helped by Saint Callistus, whose martyrdom we celebrate with joy.

“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

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