The collect for today, the Feast of Saint Clement (d. c. 100), Bishop of Rome, Martyr (source):
Eternal Father, creator of all,
whose martyr Clement bore witness with his blood
to the love that he proclaimed and the gospel that he preached:
give us thankful hearts as we celebrate thy faithfulness,
revealed to us in the lives of thy saints,
and strengthen us in our pilgrimage as we follow thy Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord,
who liveth and reigneth with thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
St Clement was one of the first leaders of the church in the period immediately after the apostles. Some commentators believe that he is the Clement mentioned in Philippians 4:3. If so, he was a companion and fellow-worker of Paul. The Roman Catholic Church regards him as the fourth pope.
St Clement is best known for his Epistle to the Corinthians, dated to about 95, which addressed some of the same issues that St Paul had addressed in his first letter to the Corinthians. The church at Corinth apparently still had problems with internal dissension and challenges to those in authority. Clement reminds them of the importance of Christian unity and love, and that church leaders serve for the good of the whole body.
Although the letter was written in the name of the Church at Rome to the Church at Corinth, St Clement’s authorship is attested by early church writers. This epistle was held in very high regard in the early church; some even placed it on a par with the canonical writings of the New Testament.
Artwork: Bernardino Fungai, The Martyrdom of Saint Clement, c. 1500. Tempera and gold on panel, City Art Gallery, York.