Friday, October 13, 2006

Saint Callistus, pope and martyr

Today we commemorate Saint Callistus, pope and martyr, an otherwise obscure name but a really fascinating figure if we shall only discover.

Callistus was born a slave to Aurelius Carpoforus, a relative of the emperor, who gave him his freedom and money besides to start a livelihood of his own, being a Christian himself. However, by whatever means, whether he cheated or whether he was cheated himself, Callistus failed in the beginning, and was charged of what we may consider now as estafa. Thus, he had to tarry long in the Roman mines in order to regain his freedom.

Being freed at last, he nevertheless won back the esteem and trust of his fellow citizens and indeed, of the Church. Then Pope, Saint Zephyrinus, made him archdeacon, his secretary and put him in-charge of the catacombs which are now named after him, and which he illuminated with precious sacred art. He soon in fact, became Bishop of Rome. In the history of the liturgy, he is credited for introducing the Ember Days, which are periodic fasts to invoke God's blessing for the various seasons of the year.

Being very outspoken, however, especially on very controversial issues such as inter-caste marriage and the reconciliation of apostates, he incurred the ire of many, who finally succeeded in putting him to death, throwing him out of his own window into a well. Later theological enlightenment however will vindicate him, a martyr because of his human and religious convictions.

Let us pray then to Saint Callistus that he may obtain for us from God the grace to rise from our failures in the past and the courage to stand up for the truth. Pray also for me on this, my birthday, that like my beloved patron, I may be a holy and zealous servant of the Lord despite my own failings and weaknesses.

Saint Callistus, pray for us!


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