Popes on Parade
Anno 32 - 100
Born c. 4BC in Bethsaida by the Sea of Galilee. Son of Jonah and brother to the apostle Andrew.
Simon was a fairly wealthy fisherman when he abandoned his career to accept Jesus' invitation to be a "fisher of men". While there is no recorded reaction of Peter's wife to this news, one can't imagine she was terribly pleased.
Peter was appointed by Jesus to be chief of the apostles under the name Kephas (Greek Petros), meaning "rock", beginning a centuries-long tradition of most Popes taking Greek names.
Following the crucifixion, he was regarded by all the Christian community as their leader. Despite being considered a bit of a bumpkin (Acts 4:13), even the well-educated St. Paul deferred to his authority. He founded churches in Jerusalem and Antioch (where the disciples were first called "Christians") before settling in Rome, where he was martyred.
Told he was to be crucified, he asked his jailors if they wouldn't mind crucifying him upside-down. Apparently he thought it a bit presumptuous to die in the same manner as Christ. One can just imagine the jailers shrugging to each other before they nailed him up.
Anno Circa 67-79
An Italian, possibly Tuscan; son of Herculanus. Of Linus almost nothing is known, as the early Christians had more important things to do than keep exacting records. Avoiding martyrdom, for instance, was probably a priority.
St. Irenaeus, writing in the second century, provides only this tidbit: "After the Holy Apostles (Peter and Paul) had founded and set the Church in order (in Rome) they gave over the exercise of the episcopal office to Linus. The same Linus is mentioned by St. Paul in his Epistle to Timothy." Linus was probably martryed.
Anno Circa 79-90
A Greek, variously known as Cletus, Anencletus, and Anacletus, possibly to confuse the Roman authorities.
The Romans were not entirely witless, however, and they eventually found him and killed him. What name they put on the death certificate is anybody's guess.
Saint Clement I
Anno Circa 90-99
An Italian, probably Roman, called Clemens Romanus to distinguish him from Clement of Alexandria, who lived at the same time.
Clement is the first Pope to actually leave a paper trail (his bestselling "Letter to the Church at Corinth"), and he was clearly regarded by contemporaries as the authority of final appeal, despite the fact that the apostle John was still alive at Ephesus.
Ordained by St. Peter, Clement served as a sort of auxiliary bishop to his two predecessors. He died a martyr. The church of San Clemente in Rome may have been built on the site of his house.
Anno Circa 99-107
A Greek, also known as Aristus. His name means "pleasing" or "acceptable".
Nothing is known about him, and even the tradition of his martyrdom is a bit sketchy.
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