Clement of Rome was the third successor of Saint Peter, reigning as pope during the last decade of the first century. He’s known as one of the Church’s five “Apostolic Fathers,” those who provided a direct link between the Apostles and later generations of Church Fathers.
Clement’s First Epistle to the Corinthians was preserved and widely read in the early Church. This letter from the bishop of Rome to the Church in Corinth concerns a split that alienated a large number of the laity from the clergy. Deploring the unauthorized and unjustifiable division in the Corinthian community, Clement urged charity to heal the rift.
Today many in the Church experience polarization regarding worship, how we speak of God, and other issues. We’d do well to take to heart the exhortation from Clement’s Epistle: “Charity unites us to God. It knows no schism, does not rebel, does all things in concord. In charity all the elect of God have been made perfect.”
Rome’s Basilica of St. Clement, one of the city’s earliest parish churches, is probably built on the site of Clement’s home. History tells us that Pope Clement was martyred either in the year 99 or in 101. The Liturgical Feast of Saint Clement is November 23.