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Pope Clement I (said to have died in 99 CE), otherwise Saint Clement of Rome, was according to Roman Catholic tradition one of the earliest Bishops of Rome, commonly known as Popes. Virtually nothing is known about him, if he existed, but he traditionally wrote a letter saying that Rome is top dog in the Christian Church, which makes him very important, particularly to the Roman Catholic church.
Traditionally he was a freed slave of Titus Flavius Clemens (consul) but there is no evidence for this and it is no longer believed. Fourth century apocrypha says that he was exiled by Emperor Trajan to work in a quarry and miraculously produced water to quench the thirst of his fellow workers. This is apocryphal. Nothing is known of his life.
He may have known Saint Peter, the traditional founder of the church in Rome, and if you count St. Peter as the first Pope, traditional lists of popes have Clement as 2nd, 3rd or 4th. Other historians doubt whether there was a formal leader of the church in Rome at that time.
He may have been martyred by being tied to an anchor and thrown in the Black Sea, although many sources fail to mention this striking event, and most people now suspect it was a different Clement. In the 9th century Saint Cyril (of alphabet fame) allegedly brought his bones from the Crimea to Rome, although as no anchor was attached this can't be considered canonical.
Evidence for the above
Pfft. Although numerous writings are attributed to him, even Christian theologians believe only one letter is genuine. He is mentioned by several of the Church fathers, notably Tertullian (writing around 200 CE), and Eusebius and Jerome, who lived even later, but this is considered by Christians as sufficient evidence that he existed. Clearly somebody wrote the letter: something stating "Rome is tops" wouldn't just appear in Rome for no reason.
Clement is known for his letter 1 Clement, written to the church at Corinth to defend some dismissed presbyters (elders or figures below bishops in the hierarchy). The epistle is not included in the New Testament, but it must have been a near thing. It is generally dated between 80-140 CE, with the typical estimate 95-97 CE. However, Richard Carrier points out there is internal evidence that the work was written before 70 C.E. In fact, 1 Clement 41:2 acts like the Temple is intact: "Not in every place, brethren, are sacrifices offered continually, either in answer to prayer, or concerning sin and neglect, but in Jerusalem only; and even there the offering is not made in every place, but before the temple in the court of the altar, after that which is offered has been diligently examined by the high priest and the appointed ministers"
It is also significant as evidence for the existence of Paul of Tarsus, praising his patience and referencing one of his epistles. It recommends charity, humility, penance, etc, and reminds people of the coming resurrection. But historically it is most important for his arguments that show the pre-eminent authority of Rome in the early Christian church. Hence it is as much political as theological.
There is also falsely attributed to him a second letter 2 Clement, and 2 essays on virginity. And he is the hero of a 4th century novel, the Clementine literature, where he hangs out with Saint Peter and has wacky adventures while Peter argues with the magician Simon Magus who claims to be able to turn himself into a goat.
- Chapman, J. (1908). Pope St. Clement I. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved March 17, 2016 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04012c.htm
- Carrier, Richard (2014). On the Historicity of Jesus Sheffield. Phoenix Press. ISBN 978-1-909697-49-2. pg 271-272