Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pope Linus, Successor to St. Peter

Pope Linus continued with the mission to share the Good News and build the foundations of Christianity during his reign. 

by M. J. Joachim
There are a lot of conflicting reports concerning Pope Linus. Being that the records date back to a relatively short time after the death of Christ, it’s easy to understand why. Much of what we know about Pope Linus has been passed down verbally – leading toward tendencies to consider it myth, or at the very least, disputable. Keeping doubts and questions in perspective, “All the ancient records of the Roman Bishops which have been handed down to us by St. Irenaeus, Julius Africanus, St. Hippolytus, Eusebius, also the Liberian catalog of 354, place the name of Linus directly after that of the Prince of the Apostles, St. Peter.” (The Original Catholic Encyclopedia)

Information concerning Pope Linus comes from ancient documents, which state his reign lasted approximately twelve years after St. Peter, our first pope. It is important to remember that the early years of the Church were a work in progress. There were many great leaders and bishops, all striving diligently to share the good news that Christ was born, died and rose from the dead, for the salvation of all.

At this point in time, the papacy was still in its infancy. The systems we have in place today (College of Cardinals – electors of successive popes, as well as a single universal papal leader) did not exist. The Church was very much in its missionary phase of development, with the apostles, disciples and the faithful making voyages to foreign lands, introducing Christ and his message to people far and wide. This was a relatively peaceful time in the Church’s history; early Christians were not deemed a threat and persecutions were generally not taking place.

Ancient Church history indicates that average people faced many difficulties, living in the times of pagan gods; many were hoping and seeking an alternative to their oppressive society. “The rapid spread of the Gospel among pagans, on the other hand, constituted the greatest religious revival in the history of man.” (Bokenkotter – A Concise History of the Catholic Church)

The Roman Empire was vast and powerful. Emperors seeking favor with trends of the times allowed and encouraged the spread of the Gospel, often to appease the people. “The old Roman religion provided little competition for Christianity. Faith in the ancient gods could not be revived, as Augustus and other Emperors found to their dismay. Nor could the average person take much comfort in the rites and ceremonies dedicated to the deified Emperors themselves.” (Bokenkotter)

Pope Linus reigned from approximately A.D. 64 or 67 to A.D. 76 or 79, directly after St. Peter and prior to Anacletus, aka Cletus. He was born in Tuscany, Italy. His lineage cannot be proven, though some records indicate his father was Herculanus. Several ancient documents state Pope Linus was a friend or disciple of St. Paul, “Try to get here before winter. Eubusius, Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brothers send greetings.” (American Catholic Bible, 2 Timothy, 4: 21) Paul was giving a final greeting in this passage, where he was sharing stories of his journeys, trials and persecutions, during the formation of the early Church.

Little is known about the actual papacy of St. Linus. It is believed he wrote about the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul. It is also acknowledged and accepted that Linus was chosen to be the next pope, after St. Peter’s death. It can be reasonably assessed that Pope Linus continued with the mission to share the Good News and build the foundations of Christianity during his reign. His feast day is September 23, the same day of his death. He has been canonized as a saint and is honored in Eucharistic Prayer I, “In union with the whole church, we honor Mary, the ever-virgin Mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God. We honor Joseph, her husband, the apostles and martyrs Peter and Paul, Andrew, [James, John, Thomas, James Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude; we honor Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian]; and all the saints. May their merits and prayers gain us your constant help and protection. [Through Christ our Lord. Amen.]”  

That’s all for now, dear people. Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrated this past week. Wishing you all a wonderful week, as we prepare for Advent and the celebration of Christmas J
M. J. 

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons, Public Domain