Catholic Encyclopedia – Pope Saint Cletus

illustration of Pope Saint Anacletus from The Lives and Times of the Popes by Chevalier Artaud de Montor, 1911Article

This name is only another form for Anacletus, the second successor of Saint Peter. It is true that the Liberian Catalogue, a fourth-century list of popes, so called because it ends with Pope Liberius (died 366), contains both names, as if they were different persons. But this is an error, owing evidently to the existence of two forms of the same name, one an abbreviation of the other. In the aforesaid catalogue the papal succession is: Petrus, Linus, Clemens, Cletus, Anacletus. This catalogue, however, is the only authority previous to the sixth century (Liber Pontificalis) for distinguishing two popes under the names of Cletus and Anacletus.

The “Carmen adv. Marcionem” is of the latter half of the fourth century, and its papal list probably depends on the Liberian Catalogue. The “Martyrologium Hieronymianum” mentions both “Aninclitus” and “Clitus” (23 and 31 December), but on each occasion these names are found in a list of popes; hence the days mentioned cannot be looked on as specially consecrated to these two persons. Apart from these lists, all other ancient papal lists, from the second to the fourth century, give as follows the immediate succession of Saint Peter: Linos, Anegkletos, Klemes (Linus, Anencletus, Clemens), and this succession is certainly the right one. It is that found in Saint Irenæus and in the chronicles of the second and third centuries. Both Africa and the Orient adhered faithfully to this list, which is also given in the very ancient Roman Canon of the Mass, except that in the latter Cletus is the form used, and the same occurs in Saint Epiphanius, Saint Jerome, Rufinus, and in many fifth- and sixth-century lists. This second successor of Saint Peter governed the Roman Church from about 76 to about 88. The “Liber Pontificalis” says that his father was Emelianus and that Cletus was a Roman by birth, and belonged to the quarter known as the Vicus Patrici. It also tells us that he ordained twenty-five priests, and was buried in Vaticano near the body of Saint Peter.

There is historical evidence for only the last of these statements. The feast of Saint Cletus falls, with that of Saint Marcellinus, on 26 April; this date is already assigned to it in the first edition of the “Liber Pontificalis”.

MLA Citation

  • Johann Peter Kirsch. “Pope Saint Cletus”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913. CatholicSaints.Info. 2 January 2016. Web. 22 October 2016. <>