Saint Brigid Religious Education
100 Mayflower Street
West Hartford, CT 06110
Feast day: October 14
The most reliable information about this saint comes from his enemy
St. Hippolytus, an early antipope, later a martyr for the Church. A
negative principle is used: If some worse things had happened,
Hippolytus would surely have mentioned them.
Callistus was a slave in the imperial Roman household. Put in charge
of the bank by his master, he lost the money deposited, fled and was
caught. After serving time for a while, he was released to make some
attempt to recover the money. Apparently he carried his zeal too far,
being arrested for brawling in a Jewish synagogue. This time he was
condemned to work in the mines of Sardinia. He was released through the
influence of the emperor's mistress and lived at Anzio (site of a famous
World War II beachhead).
After winning his freedom, Callistus was made superintendent of the
public Christian burial ground in Rome (still called the cemetery of St.
Callistus), probably the first land owned by the Church. The pope
ordained him a deacon and made him his friend and adviser.
He was elected pope by a majority vote of the clergy and laity of
Rome, and thereafter was bitterly attacked by the losing candidate, St.
Hippolytus, who let himself be set up as the first antipope in the
history of the Church. The schism lasted about 18 years.
Hippolytus attacked Callistus on two fronts, doctrine and discipline.
He accused Callistus of being too lenient. Callistus was martyred
during a local disturbance in Trastevere, Rome, and is the first pope
(except for Peter) to be commemorated as a martyr in the earliest
martyrology of the Church.