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From The Lives of the Popes from the Time of our Saviour Jesus Christ to the Accession of Gregory VII. Written Originally in Latin by B. Platina, Native of Cremona, and translated into English (from an anonymous translation, first printed in 1685 by Sir Paul Rycaut), Edited by William Benham, Volume I, London: Griffith, Farran, Okeden & Welsh, [1888, undated in text]; pp. 17-19.

The Lives of the Popes,
B. Platina

Volume I.

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ANACLETUS, an Athenian, son of Antiochus, was successor to Clement in the time of Trajanus. This Trajan’s predecessor, Nerva Cocceius, was an excellent person both in his private and public capacity, just and equal in all his proceedings, and one whose government was very advantageous to the republic. Through his procurement the acts of Domitian being repealed by decree of the Senate, multitudes thereupon returned from banishment, and several by his bounty had the goods of which they had before been plundered, restored to them. But being now very old, and drawing near to the time of his death, out of his care of the public weal, he adopted Trajan, and then died in the sixteenth month of his reign, and of his age the seventy-second year.

Trajan himself, a Spaniard, surnamed Ulpius Crinitus, coming to the empire, surpassed the best of princes in the glory of his arms, the goodness of his temper, and the moderation of his government. He extended the bounds of the empire far and wide, reduced that part of Germany beyond the Rhine to its former state, subdued Dacia, and several other nations beyond the Danube; recovered Parthia; gave a 18 king to the Albanians; made provinces beyond the Euphrates and Tigris; overcame and kept Armenia, Assyria, Mesopotamia, Silesia, Ctesiphon, and Babylon; and proceeded as far as the borders of India, and the Red Sea, where he left a fleet to infest those borders.

The ecclesiastical laws and constitutions of Anacletus were as follows, viz.: That no prelate or other clerk should suffer his beard or hair to grow long; that no bishop should be ordained by less than three other bishops; that the clergy should be admitted into holy orders in public only; and that all the faithful should after consecration communicate or be put out of the Church. By this means the Christian interest so increased, that Trajan, fearing lest the Roman state might be impaired thereby, gave allowance to a third persecution of the Christians, in which multitudes were put to death, and particularly Ignatius, the third bishop of the Church of Antioch after St Peter. Who being taken and condemned to suffer by wild beasts, as he was carried to Rome by his guards, whom he called his Ten Leopards, he all along in his passage encouraged and confirmed the Christians, by discourse with some, and by epistle to others; declaring his readiness to suffer in this manner: “Come cross, come beasts, come rack, come the torture of my whole body, and the torments of the devil upon me, so I may enjoy Christ.” And upon the occasion of his hearing the lions roar, “Corn,” says he, “I am, let me be ground by the teeth of these beasts, that I may be found fine bread.” He died in Trajan’s eleventh year, and his bones were afterwards buried in the suburbs of Antioch. But Plinius Secundus, who was then governor of that province, being moved with compassion to see so many executed, wrote to the Emperor Trajan, informing him that incredible numbers of men were daily put to death, who were persons of an unblameable life, and who in no point transgressed the Roman laws, save only that before daybreak they would sing hymns to Christ their God, but that adulteries and the like crimes were disallowed and abominated by them. Hereupon Trajan gave order, that the magistrates should not make search after the Christians, but only punish those who voluntarily offered themselves. During this persecution Simeon, the kinsman of our Lord, son of Cleophas and bishop of Jerusalem, was crucified in the hundred and twentieth year of his age. These things which we have spoken of were acted in the time 19 of this bishop and not of Cletus, as Eusebius in the third book of his history would have it; for Damasus makes out that Cletus and Anacletus differed both as to their country and manner of death — Cletus being a Roman, and suffering under Domitian, but Anacletus an Athenian, and suffering under Trajan. Our Anacletus having erected an oratory to St Peter, and assigned places of burial for the martyrs distinct from those of other men, and at one Decembrian ordination made five presbyters, three deacons, and six bishops; upon his martyrdom the see was vacant thirteen days, after he had sat in it nine years, two months, and ten days.


 1  The modern historians make him identical with Cletus, but all is uncertain at this period. — ED.

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Previous Pope:  4. St. Clemens. 5. St. Anacletus. Next Pope: 6. St. Evaristus.

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