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E00058: The Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome in the 530s, and re-edited before 546, in its account of *Cletus (bishop and martyr of Rome, S00048), tells how he suffered martyrdom, and was buried in Rome close to the body of Peter (the Apostle, S00036) on 26 April [AD 83/85].

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posted on 26.09.2014, 00:00 by CSLA Admin
Liber Pontificalis 3

First edition (as reconstructed by Duchesne)

Cletus, natione Romanus, de regione Vico Patrici, patre Emeliano, sedit ann. XII m. I d. XI. Fuit autem temporibus Vespasiani et Titi [et initio] Domitiani [a] consulatu Vespasiano VII et Domitiano V usque ad Domitiano VIIII et Rufo consulibus. Martyrio coronatur ... Qui etiam sepultus est iuxta corpus beati Petri in Vaticanum VI k. mai.

'Cletus, born in Rome, from the region of Vicus Patricius, son of Aemilianus, held the see for 7 years 1 month 20 days. He was bishop in the time of Vespasian and Titus [and the beginning] of Domitian, from the 7th consulship of Vespasian [AD 76] and the 5th of Domitian [AD 77] to the 9th of Domitian and that of Rufus [AD 83]. He was crowned with martyrdom ... He was buried close to the body of the blessed Peter on the Vatican 6 days before the kalends of May [26 April].'


Second edition

Cletus, natione Romanus, de regione Victo Patricii, patre Aemiliano, sedit ann. XII, m. I d. XI. Fuit autem temporibus Vespasiani et Titi, a consolatu Vespasiano VII et Domitiano V usque ad Domitano VIIII et Rufo consulibus. Martyrio coronatur ... Qui etiam sepultus est iuxta corpus beati Petri, in Vaticanum, VI kal. mai.

'Cletus, born in Rome, from the region of Vicus Patricius, son of Aemilianus, held the see 12 years 1 month 11 days. He was bishop in the time of Vespasian and Titus from the 7th consulship of Vespasian [AD 76] and the 5th of Domitian [AD 77] to the 9th of Domitian and that of Rufus [AD 83]. He was crowned with martyrdom. ... He was buried close to the body of the blessed Peter on the Vatican 6 days before the kalends of May [26 April].'


Text: Duchesne 1886, 53 and 122. Translation: Davis 2010, 2, lightly modified.

History

Evidence ID

E00058

Saint Name

Cletus, bishop of Rome and martyr, ob. c. 85 : S00048

Saint Name in Source

Cletus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

530

Evidence not after

546

Activity not before

80

Activity not after

546

Place of Evidence - Region

Rome

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Rome

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Rome

Major author/Major anonymous work

Liber Pontificalis

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body

Source

The Liber Pontificalis consists of a series of short lives of popes. The preface attributes it to pope Damasus (366-384), but this attribution is obviously false. According to Louis Duchesne, the first modern editor of the Liber Pontificalis, the original series of lives was written in Rome by an anonymous author, probably a member of the lesser clergy, in the 530s, and contained the lives from *Peter the Apostle to Felix IV (ob. 530). Shortly after, before 546, the text was re-edited by another anonymous author and only this edition survives. The first edition, however, can be reconstituted on the basis of its two epitomes (and the second edition). The second edition started to be continued systematically from the time of pope Honorius (625–638). It should be noted that Theodor Mommsen dated both editions of the Liber Pontificalis to the 7th century, but his opinion is widely rejected and the commonly accepted dating is that of Duchesne. For the pre-Constantinian period (before 312), the credibility of the Liber Pontificalis is very low. The chronology is confused, and details concerning the personal lives, decisions, and ordinations of the bishops of Rome at best reflect what people in the 6th century trusted to be true, at worst are a pure invention of the author. The situation changes with the later lives. Already the information of 4th century papal foundations and offerings are generally trustworthy. The early 6th century evidence, based on the author's first hand knowledge is even better, though still imperfect.

Discussion

Cletus is one of a number of early popes listed as martyrs by the Liber Pontificalis, for whom there is no other evidence of their martyrdom, nor evidence of their attracting cult. According to the Liber Pontificalis, he was Peter the Apostle's second successor; but he is now believed to be identical with Aneclitus, who has a separate biography in the Liber Pontificalis (as Peter's fourth successor). For the claim by the author of the Liber Pontificalis that almost all the early bishops of Rome were buried at the Vatican close to St Peter, see E00265.

Bibliography

Edition: Duchesne, L., Le Liber pontificalis. 2 vols (Paris: E. Thorin, 1886-1892). (With substantial introduction and commentary.) Translation: Davis, R., The Book of Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis) (Translated Texts for Historians 6; 3rd ed.; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010).

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