23 Sep Pope Saint Linus, Martyr
Today is the feast day of Pope Saint Linus. Ora pro nobis.
The “Liber Pontificalis” asserts that Linus's home was in Tuscany, and that his father's name was Herculanus; but we cannot discover the origin of this assertion.
Not much is known as certain concerning his life. He was reportedly converted to the faith in Rome after hearing St. Peter preach the Gospel. He renounced his noble origins and to serve Christ more perfectly. He soon gave admirable proofs of his zeal, learning and prudence, and the first Vicar of Christ employed him in preaching and the administration of the Sacraments.
He crossed into Gaul, and became the bishop of the city of Besançon. The number of the faithful increased daily by the conversion of many idolaters. The Saint one day attempted to turn some of those away from the celebration of a festival in honor of their gods, telling them that these idols were but statues without breath or sentiment, and represented only human beings whose vices were public knowledge.
He exhorted them to turn to the unique God, Creator of the heavens and the earth, to whom alone man owes the homage of sacrifice. A prodigy followed his words; a column of their temple crumbled and caused the fall of an idol, which broke into a thousand pieces. The worshipers, unmoved by this, drove the Saint out of the city of Besançon, as the city's tradition still attests.
St. Linus was the immediate successor of St. Peter in the see of Rome, as St. Irenæus, Eusebius, St. Epiphanius, St. Optatus, St. Austin, and others assure us. Tertullian say that St. Clement was appointed by St. Peter to be his successor; but either he declined that dignity till St. Linus and St. Cletus had preceded him in it, or he was at first only vicar of St. Peter, to govern under him the Gentile converts, whilst that apostle presided over the whole church, yet so as to be chiefly taken up in instructing the Jewish converts, and in preaching abroad.
Linus's term of office, according to the papal lists handed down to us, lasted only twelve years. The Liberian Catalogue shows that it lasted twelve years, four months, and twelve days. Perhaps it was on account of these dates that the writers of the fourth century gave their opinion that Linus had held the position of head of the Roman community during the life of the Apostle; e.g., Rufinus in the preface to his translation of the pseudo-Clementine “Recognitiones”.
But this hypothesis has no historical foundation. It cannot be doubted that according to the accounts of Irenaeus concerning the Roman Church in the second century, Linus was chosen to be head of the community of Christians in Rome, after the death of the Apostle. For this reason his pontificate dates from the year of the death of the Apostles Peter and Paul, which, however, is not known for certain.
His body was buried in the Vatican near that of Saint Peter. It was only in the 17th century that his tomb reappeared, marked Linus, when Pope Urban VIII had the work on the Confession of Saint Peter completed in the Basilica bearing his name.
Image: Portrait of Pope Saint Linus Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, Rome (5)
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff