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Pope Linus

Roman Catholicism identifies the saint Pope Linus as the second Pope, immediately following the apostle St. Peter. It is said that he was born in Volterra in Tuscany.

The dates given for his papacy vary dramatically: most sources say that he became Pope in 67, the Catholic Encyclopedia gives 64, the Liber Pontificalis claims as early as 56 and the Liberian Catalogue 55, Eusebius on the other hand gives 69.

The discrepancy may be explained by Linus already being Saint Peter's adjutor during his lifetime, and some of the sources may incorrectly choose this time. He was bishop of Rome for 11-15 years, the Liberian Catalogue gives a duration of 12 years, 4 months and 12 days. He died 79 (most sources), 76, September 23, 67 (Liber Pontificalis), 78 (Zedler) or 81 (Eusebius). Many sources - especially the Liber Pontificalis, but not Irenaeus - claim he died a martyr, but as there was no persecution in the time of Linus' death, most historians regard this rather improbable.

Tertullian names Saint Clement to have been the first successor to Saint Peter, but disregarding the differences in the dates, all other accounts unanimously have Linus as the first pope following St. Peter.

Almost nothing is known of his life, and all of the writings which were thought to have been written by him actually turned out to be fiction or unproveable. The decree for women to keep their heads covered while in church is probably not issued by him, as claimed for a long time. The apocryphal Latin account of the death of the apostles Peter and Paul is falsely attributed to Linus (this was actually written in the 6th century).

St. Peter ordained Linus as Bishop. According to Zedler his mother was Claudia, his father Herculeanus. His memorial (feast day) is September 23, the day of his martyrdom accroding to the Liber Pontificalis.

Irenaeus identifies him with the Linus mentioned by St. Paul in 2. Tim IV, 21. According to the Liber Pontificalis, Linus was buried on the Vatican Hill. In the 7th century an inscription was found near the confessional of St Peter, which was believed to contain the name Linus; but it is almost certain that this epitaph has been read incorrectly or incompletely.

Preceded by:
Saint Peter
List of popesSucceeded by:
Pope Anacletus I