Roman Mob Kills Pope Callistus I After Five Year Reign Hot

Roman Mob Kills Pope Callistus I After Five Year Reign

Pope Callistus I

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Pope Callistus I dies after reigning for five years. It's believed that he is killed by a Roman mob rioting against Christians, possibly by being thrown down a well. His name is recorded as the very first martyred pope (after Peter) in the oldest record of church martyrs, Depositio Martyrum (c. 354).

At the same time, though, Pope Callistus I seems to have been a very unsavory character who was involved in all manner of unethical activities. There are stories of how, as a slave, he was entrusted with a large sum of money and charged to make a profit through a form of banking. The project failed, possibly because he swindled his Christian customers, and he was imprisoned.

He attempted to achieve death by insulting Jews during services at a synagogue, but was sentenced to the mines instead. He was released in a general amnesty for Christians, even though his name was deliberately excluded from the list — he appears to have had a gift for getting people to do his bidding.

That gift served him well as he insinuated himself in the good graces of Pope Zephyrinus, a weak pontiff whom Callistus was able to control easily. This outraged many, including the Roman presbyter Hippolytus.

When Callistus managed to get himself elected Zephyrinus' successor, Hippolytus got himself elected pope by a schismatic group and thus became the first antipope in the Catholic Church.

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