Spirituality for Today – January 2009 – Volume 13, Issue 6

The 29th Pope

Saint Marcellinus

An illustration of Pope Saint MarcellinusPope Saint Marcellinus

Pope St. Marcellinus (296-304) – In the year 303, the Emperor Diocletian initiated his first persecution of the Church. What the emperor required was the destruction of churches, the handing over of any book considered to be sacred (including the Scriptures), and the offering of incense to the pagan gods. There is little about the reign of Pope Marcellinus that can be verified, but it is held that he complied with the demands of Diocletion to turn over sacred books and to offer incense to the gods. Because of these acts, it is possible that Pope Marcellinus either abdicated or was deposed. The successor of Marcellinus was vigorous in his condemnation of lapsed Catholics and actually removed the name of Marcellinus from the list of popes.

One may wonder how Pope Marcellinus was restored to the papal list and venerated as a saint of the Church. From a number of sources, it was reported that Pope Marcellinus repented from his acquiescence to the last two mandates of Diocletian's edict and that he suffered a martyr's death. He is mentioned in the Roman Canon. The emperor had confiscated the cemeteries belonging to the Church. Therefore, Pope Marcellinus was buried in a private cemetery.

Habemus papam!