Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Pope Cornelius - 251-253 a.d.[Martyr]
Catholic Encyclopedia ^ | 1908 | staff

Posted on 09/16/2002 5:12:07 PM PDT by Lady In Blue

Crypt of Saint Cornelius


Home > Catholic Encyclopedia > C > Pope Cornelius

Join New Advent's Catholic mailing list! Start your FREE subscription today.
<!input type=hidden name=goto_url value="home_link"> <!input type=hidden name=goto_text value="Click here to return to home_link"> <!input type=hidden name=redirect value="redirect_link">

Chronicle of the Popes By P.G. Maxwell-Stuart. Chronicle of the Popes examines the lives, deeds, and misdeeds of the 264 Popes from St. Peter to John Paul II. Includes hundreds of illustrations.    More....

Up to 50% off everything at Catholic Bargains. Find great deals today.
Catholic? Like getting stuff FREE? Visit Catholic Freebies. Click here.

Pope Cornelius

Martyr (251 to 253).

We may accept the statement of the Liberian catalogue that he reigned two years, three months, and ten days, for Lipsius, Lightfoot, and Harnack have shown that this list is a first-rate authority for this date. His predecessor, Fabian, was put to death by Decius, 20 January, 250. About the beginning of March, 251 the persecution slackened, owing to the absence of the emperor, against whom two rivals had arisen. It was possible to assemble sixteen bishops at Rome, and Cornelius was elected though against his will (Cyprian, Ep. lv, 24), "by the judgment of God and of Christ, by the testimony of almost all the clergy, by the vote of the people then present, by the consent of aged priests and of good men, at a time when no one had been made before him, when the place of Fabian, that is the place of Peter, and the step of the sacerdotal chair were vacant". "What fortitude in his acceptance of the episcopate, what strength of mind, what firmness of faith, that he took his seat intrepid in the sacerdotal chair, at a time when the tyrant in his hatred of bishops was making unspeakable threats, when he heard with far more patience that a rival prince was arising against him, than that a bishop of God was appointed at Rome" (ibid., 9). Is he not, asks St. Cyprian, to be numbered among the glorious confessors and martyrs who sat so long awaiting the sword or the cross or the stake and every other torture?

A few weeks later the Roman priest Novatian made himself antipope, and the whole Christian world was convulsed by the schism at Rome. But the adhesion of St. Cyprian secured to Cornelius the hundred bishops of Africa, and the influence of St. Dionysius the Great, Bishop of Alexandria, brought the East within a few months to a right decision. In Italy itself the pope got together a synod of sixty bishops. (See NOVATIAN.) Fabius, Bishop of Antioch, seems to have wavered. Three letters to him from Cornelius were known to Eusebius, who gives extracts from one of them (Hist. Eccl., VI, xliii), in which the pope details the faults in Novatian's election and conduct with considerable bitterness. We incidentally learn that in the Roman Church there were forty-six priests, seven deacons, seven subdeacons, forty-two acolytes, fifty-two ostiarii, and over one thousand five hundred widows and persons in distress. From this Burnet estimated the number of Christians in Rome at fifty thousand, so also Gibbon; but Benson and Harnack think this figure possibly too large. Pope Fabian had made seven regions; it appears that each had one deacon, one subdeacon and six acolytes. Of the letters of Cornelius to Cyprian two have come down to us, together with nine from Cyprian to the pope. Mgr. Merrati has shown that in the true text the letters of Cornelius are in the colloquial "vulgar-Latin" of the day, and not in the more classical style affected by the ex-orator Cyprian and the learned philosopher Novatian. Cornelius sanctioned the milder measures proposed by St. Cyprian and accepted by his Carthaginian council of 251 for the restoration to communion, after varying forms of penance, of those who had fallen during the Decian persecution (see CYPRIAN).

At the beginning of 252 a new persecution suddenly broke out. Cornelius was exiled to Centumcellæ (Civita Vecchia). There were no defections among the Roman Christians, all were confessors. The pope "led his brethren in confession", writes Cyprian (Ep. lx, ad Corn.), with a manifest reference to the confession of St. Peter. "With one heart and one voice the whole Roman Church confessed. Then was seen, dearest Brother, that faith which the blessed Apostle praised in you (Rom., i, 8); even then he foresaw in spirit your glorious fortitude and firm strength." In June Cornelius died a martyr, as St. Cyprian repeatedly calls him. The Liberian catalogue has ibi cum gloriâ dormicionem accepit, and this may mean that he died of the rigours of his banishment, though later accounts say that he was beheaded. St. Jerome says that Cornelius and Cyprian suffered on the same day in different years, and his careless statement has been generally followed. The feast of St. Cyprian was in fact kept at Rome at the tomb of Cornelius, for the fourth century "Depositio Martirum" has "XVIII kl octob Cypriani Africæ Romæ celebratur in Callisti". St. Cornelius was not buried in the chapel of the popes, but in an adjoining catacomb, perhaps that of a branch of the noble Cornelii. His inscription is in Latin: CORNELIUS* MARTYR* whereas those of Fabian and Lucius are in Greek (Northcote and Brownlow, "Roma sotteranea", I, vi). His feast is kept with that of St. Cyprian on 14 September, possibly the day of his translation from Centumcellæ to the catacombs.

The two Latin letters will be found in all editions of CYPRIAN. A better text is in MERCATI, D'alcuni muori sussidi per la critica del texto di S. Cipriano (Rome, 1899). They will be found with the fragments in COUSTANT, Epp. Rom. Pontt. and in ROUTH, Reliquæ Sacræ. There is a spurious letter to St. Cyprian in the appendix to his works, another to Lupicinus of Vienne, and two more were forged by Pseudo-Isidore. All these will be found in the collections of councils and in MIGNE. The pseudo-Cyprianic Ad Novatianum is attributed to Cornelius by NELKE, Die Chronol. der Correspondenz Cyprians (Thorn, 1902); but it is by an unknown contemporary. On Cornelius see TILLEMONT, III; Acta SS. 14 Sept.; BENSON, Cyprian (London, 1897). The Acta of St. Cornelius are valueless.

Transcribed by WGKofron
With thanks to Fr. John Hilkert, Akron, Ohio

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV
Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company
Online Edition Copyright © 1999 by Kevin Knight
Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor
Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York

TOPICS: Catholic; History
KEYWORDS: catholiclist; foughtnovatians
From a letter by Saint Cyprian,bishop and martyr[to Pope Cornelius]

Taken from the Liturgy of the Hours

A faith that is ready and unshaken

Cyprian sends greetings to his brother Cornelius. My very dear brother, we have heard of the glorious witness given by your courageous faith. On learning of the honor you had won by your witness, we were filled with such joy that we felt ourselves sharers and companions in your praiseworthy achievements.After all, we have the same Church, the same mind, the same unbroken harmony.Why then should a priest not take pride in the praise given to a fellow priest as though it were given to him? What brotherhood fails to rejoice in the happiness of its brothers wherever they are?

Words cannot express how great was the exultation and delight here when we heard of your good fortune and brave deeds: how you stood out as leader of your brothers in their declaration of faith, while the leader's confession was enhanced as they declared their faith. You led the way to glory, but you gained many companions in that glory; being foremost in your readiness to bear witness on behalf of all, you prevailed on your people to become a single witness. We cannot decide which we ought to praise, your own ready and unshaken faith or the love of your brothers who would not leave you. While the courage of the bishop who thus led the way has been demonstrated, at the same time the unity of the brotherhood who followed has been manifested. Since you have one heart and one voice, it is the Roman Church as a while that has thus borne witness.

Dearest brother, bright and shining is the faith which the blessed Apostle praised in your community. He foresaw in the spirit the praise your courage deserves and the strength that could not be broken;he was heralding the future when he testified to your achievements; his praise of the fathers was a challenge to the sons. Your unity, your strength have become shining examples of these virtues to the rest of the brethren.

Divine providence has now prepared us. God's merciful design has warned us that the day of our own struggle, our own contest, is at hand. BY that shared love which binds us closely together, we are going all we can to exhort our congregation, to vive ourselves unceasingly to fastings, vigils and prayers in common. These are the heavenly weapons which give us the strength to stand firm and endure; they are the spiritual defenses, the God-given armaments that protect us.

Let us then remember one another, united in mind and heart. Let us pray without ceasing,you for us, we for you;by the love we share we shall thus relieve the strain of these great trials.

1 posted on 09/16/2002 5:12:07 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: *Catholic_list; father_elijah; Salvation; nickcarraway; NYer; JMJ333
2 posted on 09/16/2002 8:33:56 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Lady In Blue
Today we take it for granted that we can safely practice our faith.
3 posted on 09/16/2002 9:46:36 PM PDT by nickcarraway
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway
We do, but it isn't wise. Catholics should never be confident about the right to practice our faith. We are constantly demonized. Its already okay to ridicule and demean our religion a la Mirimax films and pop culture. One of these day we may wake up and find that the culture has turned hositle on us from all the propaganda directed toward us.
4 posted on 09/16/2002 11:15:20 PM PDT by JMJ333
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Lady In Blue
Thanks, sweet person!
5 posted on 09/16/2002 11:15:49 PM PDT by JMJ333
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Lady In Blue
Double Duty bump! Think of the controversy he lived through in those two years. Our present controversy almost pales in comparison. At the very least reading about this lends perspective to today's scandals.
6 posted on 09/17/2002 9:45:55 AM PDT by Salvation
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Lady In Blue

BTTT on September 16, 2004, Memorial of St. Cornelius.

7 posted on 09/16/2004 6:52:42 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Lady In Blue

BTTT on the Memorial of Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian, September 16, 2005!

8 posted on 09/16/2005 6:19:25 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Lady In Blue


Icon Mosaic of St. Cornelius, Pope & Martyr of Rome

Feast: September 14

St. Cornelius was a Priest of Rome, chosen as Bishop in 251. In his day the Bishops of Africa were especially fond of him, and expressed their admiration of him in their letters. This holy pope, having suffered much for Christ, reposed in exile at Porto Romana in 253, and is accounted for his sufferings as a martyr. Holy Hieromartyr Cornelius, pray to God for us!

In the 2nd image, on the right, St. Cornelius is the figure farthest left of the three. On the left, the inscription is visible: CO  RNELIUSPP (Cornelius Papa).

Icon from the ancient basilica in Rome of St. Mary in Trastevere. by Pietro Cavallini.

9 posted on 09/16/2008 4:49:29 PM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson