St Callistus, St Selevan and Manacca

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Pope and martyr. This early Pope was born a slave, served sentence as a convict, was the champion of forgiveness and died for his Christian faith.

Callistus was a slave owned by a Roman Christian called Carpophorus. He was put in charge of a bank, but somehow lost the money deposited by other Christians. He fled from Rome but was captured at Porto, and sentenced to work on a treadmill. His creditors discovered what had happened and secured his release. Again he was sentenced to work in the mines in Sardinia, and once more released, thanks to the intervention of Marcia, a mistress of the Emperor Commodius.

Pope Zephyrinus put Callistus in charge of some catacombs where most of the previous Bishops of Rome were buried. He proved to be a very capable administrator and looked after the catacombs for 18 years. During this time he became a deacon. In 217 he was elected Pope.

As Pope, Callistus was known for his compassion and charity. When he allowed those who had repented of murder and adultery to receive Communion he was accused by a rigorous group lead by Hippolytus, of being too lax. Callistus also wanted to recognise marriages between Christian slaves and free people - going against the civil law. The result of this controversy was a schism lead by Hippolytus.

Under the reign of Alexander Severus, he was thrown into prison, and then was tortured by starvation in prison and scourged daily. He died in 223 and was buried along the Aurelian Way. There are different accounts of his death. He was venerated as a martyr from the 4th century onwards. The catacombs of San Callisto, where he served, are named after him.

and St Selevan and Manacca

These Sixth century Celtic saints were possibly brother and sister.

St Selevan is associated with Killeevan in County Monaghan, Ireland. He is also patron of St Levan near Penzance in Cornwall.

A chapel and well on a cliff there are believed to be the remains of his hermitage. A bench-end, carved with two fishes preserves the image of a legend in which he once fished from the rocks there, and caught two bream on the same hook. He removed them and returned them to the sea. Again they both came to the hook. Again he freed them and they came back once more. This time he took them home and found one of his sisters, Breage had come to visit with her two children.

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