Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Linus, Pope and Martyr

detail of a stained glass window showing Pope Saint Linus giving a nail from the cross of Saint Peter to Saint Clair of Rome; by Ch. Lorin of Chartres, 1905; Church of Saint-Clair, Réguiny, France; photographed on 1 November 2013 by XIIIfromTOKYO; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Saint Linus was the immediate successor of Saint Peter in the see of Rome, as Saint Irenæus, Eusebius, Saint Epiphanius, Saint Optatus, Saint Austin, and others assure us. Tertullian says that Saint Clement was appointed by Saint Peter to be his successor; but either he declined that dignity till Saint Linus and Saint Cletus had preceded him in it, or he was at first only vicar of Saint Peter, to govern under him the Gentile converts, whilst that apostle presided over the whole church, yet so as to be chiefly taken up in instructing the Jewish converts, and in preaching abroad. Saint Linus, succeeding Saint Peter after his martyrdom, sat twelve years, and is named among the martyrs in the canon of the Roman mass, which is certainly older in this part than the sacramentary of Gelasius, and of the greatest authority in this point. It is not indeed impossible that he might be called a martyr on account of his sufferings for the faith, without dying by the sword. Saint Linus was buried on the Vatican hill, near the tomb of Saint Peter.

This saint distinguished himself among the illustrious disciples of the apostles, who were formed upon their model to perfect virtue, and filled with the holy spirit of the gospel. How little are we acquainted with this spirit of fervour, charity, meekness, patience, and sincere humility; without which it is in vain that we bear the honourable name of Christians, and are a reproach and scandal to so sacred a profession!

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Linus, Pope and Martyr”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 11 August 2018. Web. 1 October 2020. <>