Thursday 23rd September 2021

Home » saints » Currently Reading:

Catholic Heroes… St. Callistus

July 27, 2021 saints No Comments


Memory can be fleeting — ashes to ashes and dust to dust. But to God, no one is forgotten, every soul remains forever mirrored in His mind’s eye. And the redeemed all belong to the Communion of Saints. Even more amazing is when someone is known long after one’s death, despite the fickleness of history.
Such is the situation with St. Callistus, whom we still remember nearly 1,800 years after his life. Ironically, what we largely know of him is through the writings of another saint, St. Hippolytus, who was angry at St. Callistus for years and saw him as his enemy. But more on that below.
Callistus was a Roman born in the second century after Christ. He was either a slave or domestic servant to Carpophorus, in the house of Caesar. Put in charge of money matters in an imperial household, he set up a bank. By some ill fortune, the bank failed, not necessarily through any fault of his. But due to the obvious difficulties, he fled. Chased by his master and caught, he was then sent off to the mines in Sardinia as punishment. (Sardinia is the second largest island off the coast of Italy.)
Then, after a time, a number of the slaves were mercifully freed and Callistus had the luck to be amongst them. He traveled to Antium, an ancient port in the vicinity of Rome. From here he was discovered and recruited by Pope St. Zephyrinus, who saw in him talents far beyond those of a failed “bank manager.”
Land had been given to the Church which became, in essence, the first Christian cemetery. The root word in Greek, “coemeterium” means “dormitory,” because Christians from the very beginning have always known this earthly realm is but a transitory state on the way to the next world. (Families at the time either commonly buried the dead on their own property, outside the town’s limits in the “city of the dead,” or burned the bodies.)
Pope Zephyrinus put Callistus in charge of the “cemetery,” the catacombs, and 1,800 years later we still know the name of Callistus as they continue to bear his name. Pope Zephyrinus made Callistus a deacon and, after the Holy Father’s death in 217, he was elected by popular acclaim as the next Pope. Because he was chosen over Hippolytus, he had his own followers, and they decided to elect Hippolytus notwithstanding so, for some time, there was a split in the papacy, with Callistus in the end prevailing.
Despite the many centuries in the interim, Hippolytus did help us to discover a fair amount about Callistus. First, it was he who installed the ember days for fasting and prayer throughout the year. He established that those who guilty of mortal sin were again allowed recourse to Communion and the sacraments, after due penance. He distinguished marriage as a sacrament, different from civil marriage, and recognized that marriages between a slave and a free man or woman were valid, which the Roman Empire did not.
Although the times were said to be peaceful for Christians, there was always a danger of martyrdom. Sadly, St. Callistus was martyred after five years in the papacy. Some say he was cast into a well with a stone around his neck. He is therefore often portrayed with a stone, while wearing his papal tiara. Buried in the Cemetery of Calepodius on the Aurelian Way, his remains were transferred to another church St. Callistus had founded by the eighth century, Santa Maria in Trastevere. Tradition says this church is on the site where Callistus was drowned and a small niche contains the marble rock said to weigh him down as he breathed his last.
The throne also bears an inscription, stating that the church is the first dedicated to Mary. If not, it was certainly one of the earliest. This is yet one more argument from those who like to claim that the importance of the Virgin was “invented” in later centuries. Despite those who sometimes claim that the Church later invented Marian devotion, we see such proofs of love for the Mother of Our Savior even in these early days of the Church. Likewise, catacombs bear witness in their decoration to early devotion to Mary.
We would be negligent were we not to mention that the Catacombs of St. Callistus along the Appian Way are among the most notable in Rome. Over time the site grew came to be the largest of any of the catacombs, five levels and 12 miles, with an underground staircase taking one down to the depths, and thousands were buried there. These naturally included many early Christian martyrs, as well as at least sixteen Popes! Because so many Bishops of Rome rested here, part of the catacombs was nicknamed the “Little Vatican.” St. Cecilia was also among the site’s most famous residents. When barbarians invaded Rome around 410, many of these remains and relics were moved to prevent desecration. Still there are doubtless countless unopened tombs, however, awaiting the Second Coming.
It is difficult, obviously, to obtain even an inventory of the Popes buried there. One partial list includes the following, all of whom are saints and two of them martyrs: Popes Pontian, Anterus, Fabian, Lucius I, Eutychian, Callistus, Anastasius, and Boniface I. Engravings not infrequently say “bishop” rather than “Pope,” because, after all, the Popes were also known as the Bishops of Rome.
The catacombs were used for religious ceremonies, but also to pay honor to the martyrs and pray. According to the Vatican:
“St. Jerome [347-420] was the first to recount how as a student he would go Sundays to visit the tombs of the apostles and the martyrs together with his study companions. ‘We would enter the galleries dug into the bowels of the earth….Rare lights coming from above land attenuated the darkness a little….We would proceed slowly, one step at a time, completely enveloped in the darkness’.”
Amazingly, for many hundreds of years these catacombs were forgotten, entrances hidden from view. In the sixteenth century, Giovanni Battista de Rossi would become known as the father of Christian archaeology, and bring them back into public view. New audiences of believers were able to view the ancient but beautiful images of faith left behind hundreds of years before. One view included symbols, prayers, and testimonies of love and life from those gone before. Pope Sixtus II was a favorite tomb; he was martyred in the year 258 saying Mass at the entrance of the tombs. Yes, this is the St. Sixtus mentioned even today in the Canon of the Mass.
St. Jerome was not alone in spending time in the catacombs. In 1873, during the jubilee of Pope Leo VIII, St. Therese of Lisieux was able to visit the Crypt of St. Cecilia before her remains were moved. She confessed in her diary that she and her sister reached down to take a small handful of soil from the saint’s tomb with them. She grew from having no special devotion to St. Cecilia to feeling her a “friend.”
Are they not all our “friends”? Are we not one body, one day united in our glorious Community of Saints? May all these souls laid here, through the intercession of St. Callistus, enjoy eternal rest, and may perpetual light shine upon them. Amen.
The feast day of St. Callistus is October 14.

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Pro-Life Group Calls for Removing Fauci After He's Caught Funding Aborted Baby Parts - - The Pro-Life News Source


Load More...

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…Continue Reading

Vatican observes ‘Earth Hour’

On Saturday, along with the Vatican, symbolic monuments of cities all across the globe turn off their lights, to demonstrate the serious global climate crisis. By Vatican News staff writer Vatican City State took part in the traditional international initiative Earth…Continue Reading

House passes bill setting up path to citizenship for millions of Dreamers

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Thursday passed an immigration bill that would create a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children.

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1


Adopt A Center

Today . . .

Abortion On Demand Act . . . House Set to Vote Friday on Massive Abortion Bill

CV NEWS FEED // Democrats in the House of Representatives will vote Friday to pass legislation that would enshrine the “right” to abortion in federal law. The “Women’s Health Protection Act,” which Republican opponents have dubbed the “Abortion On Demand Act,” would preemptively destroy all future state-level legislation to protect the unborn.  If the bill passes the House, it is not expected to pass the Senate, where it would need a 60-vote supermajority to overcome…Continue Reading

Federal judge rejects Biden admin’s demand to block Texas abortion ban before hearing

A federal judge has blocked Joe Biden’s emergency request to stop the Texas abortion ban, which has saved anywhere between 1,500 and 2,000 babies from abortion. The Texas heartbeat law went into effect Sept. 1, prohibiting abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy. Unique from other state heartbeat laws, the Texas law includes a private enforcement mechanism that allows people to file lawsuits against abortionists who violate the law…Continue Reading

Archbishops criticize ‘outrageous’ claims against St Junipero Serra

A California bill to replace a statue of St. Junipero Serra at the state capitol unfairly slanders the saint’s legacy, two archbishops claimed in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Sunday, Sept. 12.  Last month, California lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to pass Assembly Bill 338, which would replace the statue of St. Junipero Serra at the state capitol with one honoring local Indigenous populations. The bill text claims that 

Catholic health ministry head decries ‘unjust’ federal vaccine mandate

President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate for many private employers, drawing criticism from the head of one Catholic health care ministry. “Coercing individuals into making a medical intervention is unjust,” said Louis Brown, executive director of the Christ Medicus Foundation and former acting deputy director of the Civil Rights Division of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, in an interview with CNA on Thursday. “And a vaccine mandate that could…Continue Reading

Archbishop Cordileone raises issue of excommunication for abortion advocates

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 5, 2021 / 18:07 pm Calling abortion “the most pressing human rights challenge of our time,” Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone on Sunday invoked the excommunication of prominent Catholic segregationists in the early 1960s as an example of a legitimate response to Catholics politicians who support “a great moral evil.” In an op-ed published in the Washington Post, the leader of the Archdiocese of San Francisco pushed back against recent statements by Catholic politicians…Continue Reading

New FDA Records Show . . . Purchases Of Fetal Organs, Heads And Tissue for ‘Humanized Mice’ Project

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Judicial Watch announced September 14, that it received 198 pages of records and communications from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) involving “humanized mice” research with human fetal heads, organs and tissue, including communications and contracts with human fetal tissue provider Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR). Most of the records are communications…Continue Reading

The Enduring Path To Financial Health: Graduate, Work, Marry And Have Children

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY The basic path to financial success in this country has been revealed once again by the Census Bureau’s annual report on income and poverty, which was released this week. What did it show?People who graduate from college, get a job, get married and have children generally earn more money than those…Continue Reading

Our Vindictive Culture

By REY FLORES We have all known political correctness as a way of life for years now. It seems that everyone gets offended by one thing or another, but as we spiral out of control into the unknown future, it’s no longer about pointing out political incorrectness — today it’s about punishing the accused in…Continue Reading

If Dems Trample U.S. Into The Dust … They’ll Have Cleared The Ground To Build New Dictatorship

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX – Like many other people who don’t determine the priorities for coverage by dominant left-wing media, conservative pundit Bill Bennett was puzzled at irrational behavior in Joe Biden’s proclaimed steely fight against the COVID virus.Commenting that 40,000 people a week come up to the southern border, Bennett said, “If this is…Continue Reading

A Philadelphia Lawyer In The Garden Of Eden

By DONALD DeMARCO There was no moment in the annals of biblical history, if we are to give full rein to our imagination, when the presence of a lawyer was more urgently needed than immediately after Adam and Eve ingested the forbidden fruit. His absence was most keenly felt, for he was not there to…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

“Abortion is Murder”

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK “Be a pastor, don’t go condemning.” was the Pope’s answer to a question from a reporter on the return flight from his recent apostolic journey to Slovakia and Hungary. The context was a question posed: “What must the pastor do?” in reference to pro-abortion politicians. On the subject of abortion, the Pope repeated the Church…Continue Reading

The Exorcistic Effect… Of The Word Of God

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this commentary on September 8 and it is reprinted here with permission. His blog is found at + + Many often think of exorcism only in relation to driving out demons from possessed people using ancient prayers. But, truth be told, we all have afflictions, oppressions, temptations, and other…Continue Reading

Love God With Your Whole Heart

BY FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Sixth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Numb. 11:25-29James 5:1-6Mark 9:38-43; 45, 47-48 In the Gospel reading today our Lord tells us that if our hand or foot causes us to sin, cut it off; if our eye causes us to sin, pluck it out. Obviously, our hand, foot, or eye cannot be the cause…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: If the following lessons, which were prepared for Confirmation students, are of value to you, put them to whatever use you can. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well, so please send them along, either to the postal mailing address or the email address below, and we will interrupt this series to answer…Continue Reading

The Beating Heart Of Texas

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK When it comes to legalized baby killing, also known as abortion, untold numbers of Catholics are languishing spiritually under what I’ll call the “Biden delusion.” Some of them would begin to explain it by stating, “I’m personally opposed, but….”For a few years now Biden has survived politically as a Democrat, while claiming to be Catholic,…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Nicholas Owen

By DEB PIROCH First you see him…and then you don’t. Dangerous times call for dangerous measures. During the reign of Elizabeth I and James I of England, St. Nicholas Owen was the expert at creating what became known as “priests’ holes,” or secret hiding spots for clergy. Located in the homes of wealthy recusant Catholics, these were hidden compartments or…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Mariam Of Jesus Crucified

By DEB PIROCH Her parents had tried so hard to have a child. Again and again they had a little boy, one after the other dying in infancy. After losing 12 boys, Mariam’s mother said to her father: Let’s go to the Holy Grotto in Jerusalem and pray to the Blessed Virgin to intercede for a girl.Mariam’s parents were Greek…Continue Reading