Sts. Cletus and Marcellinus, Popes
St. Cletus was the third to follow Peter as bishop of Rome, but very little else is known about him. It is said that he ordained many priests, and he is included in the list of saints who are invoked in prayer at Mass. He served as pope for 12 years and died around the year 91, probably as martyr during a persecution of Christians by the Roman empire.
St. Marcellinus as also pope, though he served the Church 200 years after Cletus. A legend tells of Marcellinus also facing persecution, but crumbling under pressure and handing over Scripture and offering sacrifice to the imperial gods. This legend goes on to state that Marcellinus later acknowledged his guilt and gave up his role as pope, and then found the courage to die as a martyr. This legend has no historical grounding, but we might surmise that Marcellinus was guilty of stumbling in his faith and was reconciled to the Church to die a holy death, for we still honor him as a saint and martyr.
Relics of both St. Cletus and St. Marcellinus rest in the reliquary chapel in the Basilica. The image of St. Cletus is used here with permission from Catholic.org.
Sts. Cletus and Marcellinus, you who led the Church as popes and died for our faith as martyrs, pray for us!