Clement is somewhat a man of mystery, his life’s story defined by fact woven within myth and legend. We know he was born ca. 35 AD and was a disciple of Saint Peter with whom he closely identified theologically. While some noted historians believe Clement was successor to Saint Peter as Bishop of Rome, others place him third in the line of succession. He is honored as the first Apostolic Father of the Church, and held office as Pope from 88AD until his death in ca. 99AD. Consecrated by Peter, he led an exemplary life and was a leader in the late first century church in Rome.
Saint Clement made clear his belief in obedience to church authority as established by the early apostles. His only existing text is a letter known as the First Epistle of Clement. It was written to the Christians in Corinth, and was a rebuke to those responsible for the deposition of certain presbyters or bishops. He exhorted the troubled congregation to repent and restore those who were unfairly removed from office. This letter was so respected that it was read at church in Corinth, along with Holy Scripture.
Thought by some to be the first to refine iron from ore, and to shoe a horse, Saint Clement is the Patron Saint of metal workers and blacksmiths. He also was arrested while Pope, and banished from Rome to Pontus. There he was condemned to work in the marble quarries, alongside many fellow Christians and pagan convicts. Clement was a source of comfort, strength and encouragement to the prisoners. A particular hardship was the lack of drinking water and a miracle is attributed to the intervention of St. Clement. The story is told that one day, upon seeing the suffering of his fellow prisoners, he knelt in prayer. When he looked up, he saw a lamb on a nearby hillside. Clement walked toward the lamb, and struck the ground near its feet with his pickaxe, releasing a gushing stream of clear water. This miracle converted many local pagans, and also sealed St. Clement’s death. The ruling Roman Prefect sentenced him to death by drowning. An old anchor was tied around his neck and he was thrown in the Black Sea.