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ST. CALIXTUS I

ca. 217- 222 AD

St. Caliztus (or Callistus) was a Roman from the Trastevere district. His father's name was Domitius. He decreed a fast from corn, wine, and oil three times a year. These fasts together with the lenten fast make up the fasts of the four seasons which the Ember days prescribe even to today. Pope Calixtus is said to have built a basilica across the Tiber in his native Trastevere district. He constructed a cemetery on the Appian Way which is one of the most famous of Christian cemeteries. In it are buried many popes and martyrs.

The "Liber Pontificalis" gives the above information, but Calixtus is chiefly known from the writings of his enemies. Hippolytus accused him of being too friendly to the Monarchian heretics in spite of the fact that Calixtus condemned Sabellius, the leader of that heresy. Both Hippolytus and Tertullian were deeply outraged by an act of the Pope which would endear him to most and shows him to be a true disciple of the merciful Christ. In the early Church there was a strong tendency to rigorism. Some bishops had refused to receive back into communion apostates, adulterers, and murderers. Such sinners, no matter how deeply they might repent, would remain excommunicated until death. By the time of Calixtus this practice had become general in the Church. How painful for repentant sinners this must have been can easily be imagined. Calixtus decreed that all sinners who truly repented could be absolved and received back into the Church after suitable penance.

The grim Tertullian, infected with Montanist puritanism, was furious. Hippolytus went so far as to set himself up as antipope. Both wrote bitterly against the mercy of Pope Calixtus.

St. Calixtus died a martyr. He was buried in the Cemetery of Calipodius on the Aurelian Way. His feast is kept on October 14.


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