+ What little information we have about Pope Callistus I comes to us from his political rival, the antipope Saint Hippolytus.
+ Callistus was born into slavery but after obtaining freedom, was ordained a deacon by Pope Zephyrinus and supervisory power over the clergy of Rome. Because of Zephyrinus’ own intellectual and administrative limitations, Callistus exerted enormous influence and was elected to succeed him in the year 217.
+ The five years of Callistus’s papacy were largely defined by his constant battles with Hippolytus and his followers who accused the pope of doctrinal deviations.
+ Unlike Hippolytus, Callistus believed that saints and sinners grew up together in the Church. It was the Church’s duty to offer reconciliation to anyone seeking forgiveness of sins committed after baptism.
+ Honored as a martyr, Callistus died in the year 222. Although his tomb was lost for centuries, it was discovered in 1960 in the remains of a 4th century oratory.
+ Because a famous catacomb is named for Saint Callistus, he is often honored as the patron of cemetery workers.
For prayer and reflection
“The spirit of a strong and stable character strengthened by meditation endures; the unshaken spirit, which is strengthened by a certain and solid faith in the future will be enlivened against all the terrors of the devil and threats of this world.”—Saint Cyprian of Carthage, Treatise on Martyrdom
O God, who raised up Pope Saint Callistus the First
to serve the Church
and attend devoutly to Christ's faithful departed,
strengthen us, we pray, by his witness to the faith,
so that, rescued from the slavery of corruption,
we may merit an incorruptible inheritance.
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.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.Access our archives of daily saint biographies here