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Pope Callixtus I

pope callixtus iii, pope callixtus ii
Pope Callixtus I died circa 223, also called Callistus I, was the bishop of Rome according to Sextus Julius Africanus from c 218 to his death c 2233 He lived during the reigns of the Roman Emperors Elagabalus and Alexander Severus Eusebius and the Liberian catalogue gave him five years of episcopate 217–222 He was martyred for his Christian faith and is venerated as a saint by the Catholic Church


  • 1 Life
  • 2 Death
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References
  • 5 Literatur
  • 6 External links


His contemporaries and enemies, Tertullian and Hippolytus of Rome the author of Philosophumena, relate that Callixtus, as a young slave from Rome, was put in charge of collected funds by his master Carpophorus, funds which were given as alms by other Christians for the care of widows and orphans; Callixtus lost the funds and fled from the city, but was caught near Portus4 According to the tale, Callixtus jumped overboard to avoid capture but was rescued and taken back to his master He was released at the request of the creditors, who hoped he might be able to recover some of the money, but was rearrested for fighting in a synagogue when he tried to borrow money or collect debts from some Jews3

Statue of Pope Callixtus I, Cathedral of Reims

Philosophumena claims that, denounced as a Christian, Callixtus was sentenced to work in the mines of Sardinia4 He was released with other Christians at the request of Hyacinthus, a eunuch presbyter, who represented Marcia, the favourite mistress of Emperor Commodus4 At this time his health was so weakened that his fellow Christians sent him to Antium to recuperate and he was given a pension by Pope Victor I3

In 199, Callixtus was ordained a deacon by Pope Zephyrinus and appointed superintendent of the Christian cemetery on the Appian Way That place, which is to this day called the Catacombs of St Callixtus, became the burial-ground of many popes and was the first land property owned by the Church4 Emperor Julian the Apostate, writing to a pagan priest, said:4

Christians have gained most popularity because of their charity to strangers and because of their care for the burial of their dead

In the third century, nine Bishops of Rome were interred in the Catacomb of Callixtus, in the part now called the Capella dei Papi These catacombs were rediscovered by the archaeologist Giovanni Battista de Rossi in 1849

In 217, when Callixtus followed Zephyrinus as Bishop of Rome, he started to admit into the church converts from sects or schisms who had not done penance5 He fought with success the heretics, and established the practice of absolution of all sins, including adultery and murder4 Hippolytus found Callixtus's policy of extending forgiveness of sins to cover sexual transgressions shockingly lax and denounced him for allowing believers to regularize liaisons with their own slaves by recognizing them as valid marriages67 As a consequence also of doctrinal differences, Hippolytus was elected as a rival bishop of Rome, the first antipope8

The Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere was a titulus of which Callixtus was the patron In an apocryphal anecdote in the collection of imperial biographies called the Augustan History, the spot on which he had built an oratory was claimed by tavern keepers, but Alexander Severus decided that the worship of any god was better than a tavern, hence the structure's name The 4th-century basilica of Ss Callixti et Iuliani was rebuilt in the 12th century by Pope Innocent II and rededicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary The 8th-century Chiesa di San Callisto is close by, with its beginnings apparently as a shrine on the site of his martyrdom, which is attested in the 4th-century Depositio martyrum and so is likely to be historical


It is possible that Callixtus was martyred around 222 or 223, perhaps during a popular uprising, but the legend that he was thrown down a well has no historical foundation, though the church does contain an ancient well According to the apocryphal Acts of Saint Callixtus, Asterius, a priest of Rome, recovered the body of Callixtus after it had been tossed into a well and buried Callixtus' body at night9 Asterius was arrested for this action by the prefect Alexander and then killed by being thrown off a bridge into the Tiber River9

He was buried in the cemetery of Calepodius on the Aurelian Way410 and his anniversary is given by the 4th-century Depositio Martirum and by subsequent martyrologies on 14 October The Roman Catholic Church celebrates his optional memorial on 14 October His relics were transferred in the 9th century to Santa Maria in Trastevere11

See alsoedit

  • Biography portal
  • Christianity portal
  • History portal
  • List of Catholic saints
  • List of popes


  1. ^ The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica "Saint Calixtus I" Encyclopædia Britannica Retrieved 14 August 2016 
  2. ^ Jones, Tery M "Pope Saint Callistus I" SaintsSQPNcom Star Quest Publication Network Retrieved 14 October 2010 
  3. ^ a b c Chapman, John 1908 "Pope Callistus I" in The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol 3 New York: Robert Appleton Company
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Fr Paolo O Pirlo, SHMI 1997 "St Callistus I" My First Book of Saints Sons of Holy Mary Immaculate - Quality Catholic Publications p 240 ISBN 971-91595-4-5 
  5. ^ Philosophoumena IX7
  6. ^ Pagels, Elaine 1979 The Gnostic Gospels Weidenfeld and Nicholson p 108 
  7. ^ Hippolytus Refutation of all heresies Book 9 Ch 7 
  8. ^ "Saint Hippolytus of Rome" Encyclopedia Britannica 
  9. ^ a b Sabine Baring-Gould, The Lives of the Saints Vol 2 J Hodges, 1877 Digitized 6 June 2007 Page 506
  10. ^ Matilda Webb 2001 The Churches and Catacombs of Early Christian Rome: A Comprehensive Guide Sussex Academic Press pp 229– ISBN 978-1-902210-57-5 
  11. ^  Herbermann, Charles, ed 1913 "Pope Callistus I" Catholic Encyclopedia New York: Robert Appleton Company 
  • Kelly, J N D 2006 Oxford Dictionary of the Popes 2nd ed Oxford University Press pp 13–4 ISBN 0198614330 


  • Friedrich Wilhelm Bautz 1975 "Calixt I" In Bautz, Friedrich Wilhelm Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon BBKL in German 1 Hamm: Bautz cols 858–859 ISBN 3-88309-013-1 
  • Pope Callistus I CE

External linksedit

  • St Calixtus, or Callistus, Pope, Martyr
  • St Callistus I
  • Callistus I in the Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints
  • Collected works of Migne Patrologia Latina
  • Callistus I in the Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints
  • Collected works by Migne Patrologia Latina
Titles of the Great Christian Church
Preceded by
Bishop of Rome

Succeeded by
Urban I

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