Also known as Anencletus and Cletus, St. Anacletus was the third Pope. His Papacy lasted twelve years between 76 and 89. It is believed he was martyred c.89 by the Roman Emperor Domitian and buried near St Peter and St Linus, his two predecessors, in the Vatican. Very little is know about him and his most spoken about due to the debate other whether Cletus and Anacletus were one person or different Popes. Karen Rae Keck points out,

"Because the name Anacletus (or Anencletus), which means blameless, was common among Greek slaves, some scholars doubt that Anacletus existed"
However scholars seem to have dismissed this possibility,
"All other ancient papal lists, from the second to the fourth century, give as follows the immediate succession of St. Peter: Linos, Anegkletos, Klemes (Linus, Anencletus, Clemens), and this succession is certainly the right one" - JP Kirsch (Catholic Encyclopaedia)
with an explanation coming from John Chapman (Catholic Encyclopaedia), "Anacletus is a Latin error; Cletus is a shortened (and more Christian) form of Anencletus".

Anacletus was Greek and he is thought to have been a respected companion of the disciples who was converted by St Peter himself. He is known to have ordained around twenty five priests and assigned them to twenty five parishes which he divided Rome into. The belief that he was martyred seems to be largely based on his inclusion in the Roman Canon of the Mass as a martyr. Similarly there is no date for his canonisation although his saint day is 26 April.

Linus - Pope - Clement I
Pope St. Anacletus succeeded Linus to become the second bishop of Rome. Like his predecessor, he occurs in the ancient succession list of Irenaeus and also in the history of Eusebius (Iren., Adversus haereses 3.3.2; Historia Ecclesiastica 3.13;3.15;3.21;5.6). These suggest he occupied the episcopal office from around A.D. 79 to around A.D. 91. Our knowledge of these early pontifical figures is slight, and as the previous write-up under this heading has noted, scholars have often questioned the very existence of Anacletus. They were most troubled by the name. Anacletus is a Greek adjective meaning "blameless," and some thought it derived from Paul's statement, in Tit. 1:7, that a bishop be blameless ("For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God: not proud, not subject to anger, nor given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre....") In fact, however, the name also seems to have been given, on occasion, to slaves.

The Liber Pontificalis and the fourth-century Liberian Catalogue distinguish two popes, Anacletus and Cletus, where our earlier and better sources mention only the former. Cletus, of course, is only a shortened form of Anacletus, and there is little reason to suppose that Cletus was a distinct figure.

In the Liber Pontificalis we find this unreliable biography of "Cletus" (Latin text from L. Duchesne, Le Liber Pontificalis, Paris, 1955, vol. I, p. 122):
Cletus, natione Romanus, de regione Vico Patricii, patre Aemiliano, sedit ann. XII m. I d. XI. Fuit autem temporibus Vespasiani et titi, a consulatu Vespasiano VII et Domitiano V usque ad Domitiano VIIII et Rufo consulibus. Martyrio coronatur. Hic ex praecepto beati Petri XXV presbiteros ordinavit in urbe Roma. Qui etiam sepultus est iuxta corpus beati Petri, in Vaticanum, VI kal. mai. Et cessavit episcopatus dies XX.

In English (my translation):
Cletus, a Roman by birth, from the neighborhood of the Vicus Patricius, was bishop for twelve years, one month and eleven days. This was in the times of Vespasian and Titus, from the seventh consulate of Vespasian and the fifth of Domitian (A.D. 77) to the ninth consulate of Domitian and of Rufus (A.D. 83). He was crowned a martyr. According to the precept of the blessed Peter, he ordained twenty-five priests in the city of Rome. He was buried next to the body of the blessed Peter, in the Vatican, on the sixth day before the Kalends of May (26 April). And the episcopate was vacant for twenty days.

Of course, this biography is mostly legendary; there is no other evidence for Anacletus' martyrdom or for the ordinations assigned to him. The number twenty-five is suspicious, as Duchesne notes (p. 122, n. 3), for it accords with the number of titular churches in Rome at the end of the fifth century (the date that this section of the LP was probably composed).

The LP biography of "Anacletus" is substantially different (text from Duchense, p. 125):
Anaclitus, natione Grecus, de Athenis, ex patre Antiocho, sedit ann. VIIII m. II d. X. Fuit autem temporibus Domitiani, a consulatu Domitiano X et Sabino usque ad Domitiano XVII et Clemente consulibus. Hic memoriam beati Petri construxit et conposuit, dum presbiter factus fuisset a beato Petro, seu alia loca ubi episcopi reconderentur sepulturae; ubi tamen et ipse sepultus est, iuxta corpus beati Petri, III id. iulias. Hic fecit ordinationes II per mens. decemb., presbiteros V, diaconos III; episcopos per diversa loca numer VI. Et cessavit episcopatus dies XIII.

Translation (mine, again):
Anacletus, Greek by birth, from Athens, whose father was Antioch, occupied the episcopate for nine years, two months and ten days. This was in the times of Domitian, from the tenth consulate of Domitian and Sabinus (A.D. 84) to the seventeenth consulate of Domitian and Clement (A.D. 95). He constructed and built a memoria of the blessed Peter, since he had been made a priest by the blessed Peter, along with other places where bishops might be buried. And he was buried next to the body of the blessed Peter, on the third day before the Ides of July (13 July). He conducted two ordinations in the month of December, (and consecrated) five priests and three deacons, and six bishops in various (sees). And the episcopate was vacant for thirteen days.

These contradictory biographies simply underscore how little we know. We cannot say for certain whether Anacletus was of Greek or Roman origin, precisely when he occupied the episcopal see at Rome, or even what it really meant to be a bishop in the first century of Christianity.

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