On October 14th, the Holy Church celebrates the Feast of Pope St. Callistus I. St. Callistus reigned as the Vicar of Christ from c. 218 to 223 AD. The Holy Pontiff was martyred for the Faith during an uprising of persecution at the time of Alexander Severus.
According to legend recorded in the Acts of Saint Callixtus, St. Callistus was thrown down a well to his death. At night, Asterius, a priest of Rome, recovered the body of St. Callixtus for which action he too suffered martyrdom, this time by being thrown off a bridge into the Tiber River.
St. Callistus was born a slave, the property of Carpophorus, a Christian man in the household of Caesar. His master entrusted a large sum to Callistus to open a bank, which took in several deposits, made several loans to people who refused to pay them back, and went broke. Knowing he would be personally blamed and punished, Callistus fled, but was caught and returned to his owner.
Several depositors begged for his life, believing he had not lost the money, but had stolen and hid it. They were wrong; he wasn’t a thief, just a victim, but he was sentenced to work the tin mines in punishment. By a quirk of Roman law, the ownership of Callistus was transferred from Carpophorus to the state, and when he was later ransomed out of his sentence with a number of other Christians, he became a free man.
Pope Zephyrinus put Callistus in charge of the Roman public burial grounds, today still called the Cemetery of Saint Callistus. St. Callistus became an Archdeacon. In time, he became in c. 218 the 16th Vicar of Christ.
Callistus was on more than one occasion accused of heresy for such actions as permitting a return to Communion for sinners who had repented and done penance, or for proclaiming that differences in economic class were no barrier to marriage. This last put him in conflict with Roman civil law, but he stated that in matters concerning the Church and the sacraments, Church law trumped civil law. In both cases he taught what the Church has taught for centuries, including today, and though a whole host of schismatics wrote against him, his crime seems to have been to practice true Christianity.
Source: “Pope Saint Callistus I“. Saints.SQPN.com. 25 August 2014. Web. 13 October 2014.
O God, You see that we fail because of our weakness. Be merciful to us and let the example of Your saints renew our love of You. Through our Lord . . .