Clement of Rome is counted as Rome’s third bishop, and also considered as one of the Apostolic Fathers. Among the most genuine proofs of the connection of Clement to the Roman church is the mention of his name in its liturgy. The early Christians on a bishop’s death did not discontinue mentioning their names on public prayers, thus the mention of Clement’s name. Currently, the Roman Canon of the Mass, after the names of the apostles, recites the names of Linus, Cletus, and Clemens; with some proof that the liturgy in the 2nd century contained the same names.
The predecessors of Clement of Rome are Linus and Cletus, about whom nil is known and they are simply names on a list. However, Clement of Rome is more than this, mainly because he wrote a letter to the Corinthians, which was highly respected by the early church and has been preserved to this day.
The letter of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians focused on restoring harmony to the Corinthian church, which had been bothered by questions pertaining to discipline rather than doctrine. The mass of the letter takes up in enforcing the duties of humility, meekness, submission to lawful authority, and but little effort is made at the denial of doctrinal error.
The letter is occasioned by the truth that a group of Christians at Corinth had banded jointly against their leaders and had overthrown them from office. Clement of Rome writes to them telling them that they have badly behaved and reminding them of the importance of Christian love and unity. What was said in the beginning of the letter as to the tragedies under which the church has suffered is exemplified through some of the petitions and prayer made for the earthly rulers that they themselves submit and recognize the honor given them by God and not contrasting it.
In an art, Clement of Rome can be identified as a pope with an anchor and fish, which may reflect a story about his death, where he was said to have been put to death through being tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea. Some art has an addition of a millstone, a fountain that sprung forth his prayers, keys, or with a book. The Mariner’s Cross is also referred to as St. Clement’s Cross in indication to the way he was martyred.
The church of St. Clement of Rome lies in the valley between the Coelian and Esquiline hills, and is now in the hands of the Irish Province of Dominicans. It is the most perfect model of an early basilica in Rome although it was built by the late 12th century, with its atrium, ambos, and choir enclosed by wall.