October 14 - Saint Callistus I

Quick Facts

  • Born a slave, owned by Carpophorus, a Christian in the household of Caesar.
  • His master entrusted a large sum to Callistus to open a bank, which took in several deposits, made several loans to people who refused to pay them back, and went broke.
  • Knowing he would be personally blamed and punished, Callistus fled, but was caught and returned to his owner.
  • Several depositors begged for his life, believing he had not lost the money, but had stolen and hid it.
  • They were wrong; he wasn't a thief, just a victim, but he was sentenced to work the tin mines.
  • By a quirk of Roman law, the ownership of Callistus was transferred from Carpophorus to the state, and when he was later ransomed out of his sentence with a number of other Christians, he became a free man.
  • Pope Saint Zephyrinus put Callistus in charge of the Roman public burial grounds, today still called the Cemetery of Saint Callistus.
  • Archdeacon.
  • Sixteenth Pope.
  • Most of what we know about him has come down to us from his critics, including an anti-Pope of the day.
  • He was on more than one occassion accused of heresy for such actions as permitting a return to Communion for sinners who had repented and done penance, or for proclaiming that differences in economic class were no barrier to marriage.
  • This last put him in conflict with Roman civil law, but he stated that in matters concerning the Church and the sacraments, Church law trumped civil law.
  • In both cases he taught what the Church has taught for centuries, including today, and though a whole host of schismatics wrote against him, his crime seems to have been to practice orthodox Christianity.
  • Martyr