Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Linus succeeded Peter

Linus is not a very common name. There was the scientist, Pauling; and there is the Bible quoting, comic strip character of Charles Schultz, Linus van Pelt. But, Linus is a christian name. Saint Linus was pope.*

When recounting history, especially as milestone markers, the first is heralded. But, naturally, if the first is not the last, things go on. The second comes, even if less noticed. Cristóbal Colón captained one ship, in a fleet of three; the Pinzon brothers helmed the other two. Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon, he did not go alone; Buzz Aldrin kept him company. There were not many other lunar voyageurs, it is not a land worth going; now, Amerca continues to be a destination.

The first bishop of Rome, and pope of the church universal, was Peter the fisherman from Galilee. He was there twenty five years, from a.D. 42† on. Peter knew his immediate successors, and designated them: Linus, Cletus and Clement. To-day’s writers have little to say of these men, but certainly they walked the earth, lived and acted.

Linus came from Volterra in Tuscany, from an aristocratic family. Somehow, Linus found Jesus through Peter. He spread the faith in Besançon, in Gaul, as bishop, but aroused the ire of pagans and returned to Rome. He knew both Peter and Paul. Paul mentions him, at the end of his second letter to Timothy‡, during his final imprisonment.

For some twelve years he held the office of Peter. Peter had Linus preside in Rome, when he [Peter] went to Jerusalem. The early church was operating. The foreign fisherman was martyred in his see, the provincial senator also, and so the others into the fourth century. The day was 23 September, after a miracle had offended pagan Rome, Linus was decapitated.
*co-incidentally, there is a cartoon character, named Cletus in
the Simpsons.
But he [Peter] beckoning to them with his hand to hold their peace, told how the Lord had brought him out of prison, and he said: Tell these things to James, and to the brethren. And going out, he went into another place [Rome]. — Acts xii. 17. The church that is in Babylon [Rome], elected together with you, saluteth you: and so doth my son Mark. — I Peter v. 13.
Make haste to come before winter. Eubulus and Pudens [Peter’s landlord], and Linus and Claudia [Linus mother], and all the brethren, salute thee. — II Timothy iv. 21.

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