St. Clement, Pope of Rome, was born at Rome into a rich and illustrious family. Separated from his parents from childhood by force of circumstances, Clement was raised by strangers. Living in Rome, the youth received a fine education, he was surrounded by luxury, and had access to the imperial court. But these comforts brought him no joy, and pagan wisdom failed to attract him. He began to ponder the meaning of life.
When the news of Christ and His teaching began to reach the capital, St Clement left his home and estate and went to the lands where the Apostles were preaching. At Alexandria St Clement met the holy Apostle Barnabas, listening to his words with deep attention, and perceiving the power and truth of the Word of God. Arriving in Palestine, St Clement was baptized by the holy Apostle Peter and became his zealous disciple and constant companion, sharing his toil and sufferings with him. Shortly before his own sufferings and death, St Peter consecrated St Clement as Bishop of Rome. After the death of the Apostle Peter, St Linus (67-79) was the next Bishop of Rome, succeeded by St Anacletus (79-91), and then St Clement (92-101).
The virtuous life, charitable works and prayerful activity of St Clement converted many to Christ. He once baptized 424 people on the day of Pascha. Among the baptized were people of all social classes: slaves, officials, and even members of the imperial family.
The pagans, seeing the success of his apostolic preaching, denounced St Clement to the emperor Trajan (98-117), accusing the saint of insulting the pagan gods. The emperor banished St Clement from the capital, sending him to the Crimea, to work at a stone quarry near the city of Cherson. Many of the saint’s disciples followed after him voluntarily, preferring to go into exile rather than live without their spiritual Father.
When he arrived at the place of exile, St Clement found many Christian believers there, sentenced to labor under harsh conditions amidst a scarcity of water. He prayed together with the condemned, and the Lord appeared to him in the form of a lamb and revealed the location of a spring, from which gushed forth a veritable river of water. This miracle attracted a multitude of people to St Clement. Hearing the zealous preacher, hundreds of pagans were converted to Christ. Each day 500 or more men were baptized. And there in the stone quarry, a church was built, in which he served as priest.
The apostolic activity of the saint aroused the wrath of the emperor Trajan, and he ordered that St Clement be drowned. They threw the martyr into the sea with an anchor tied to his neck. This occurred in the year 101.
The saint’s faithful disciples Cornelius and Fibius asked the people to pray that the Lord would permit them to see the martyr’s body. The sea drew back a distance of three miles from the shore and the people walked out on the seabed until they found a marble cave shaped like a church. There they found the incorrupt body of their archpastor in this “Angelic Church” formed by God. After this, each year on the anniversary of St Clement’s martyric death the sea receded, and for seven days Christians were able to venerate his holy relics.
During the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus (802-811), by divine providence, the sea failed to withdraw, and the relics of St Clement became inaccessible for fifty years. In the time of the emperor Michael and his mother Theodora (855-867), Sts Cyril and Methodius visited Cherson. When they learned of the concealed relics of St Clement, they asked Bishop George of Cherson to pray that the Lord would show them the relics of the hieromartyr.
Sts Cyril and Methodius walked along the shore in procession with the clergy who came with them from Constantinople. Through the fervent prayers of everyone gathered there, the holy relics of St Clement miraculously appeared on the surface of the sea at midnight. They solemnly took them to the Church of the Holy Apostles at Constantinople. A portion of the relics were then brought to Rome by Sts Cyril and Methodius, but a large portion of the relics was later brought to Kiev by the holy Prince Vladimir (July 15) and placed in the Desyatin-Tithe church, together with the relics of St Fibius, where a chapel dedicated to St Clement had been built. The hieromartyr Clement is widely venerated in Russia. From ancient times, many churches have been dedicated to him.
St Clement, who belongs to the Apostolic Fathers, has left to us a spiritual legacy (two Epistles to the Corinthians) the first written examples of Christian teaching after the writings of the holy Apostles.