SAINT CORNELIUS, POPE
FEAST DAY: SEPTEMBER 16TH
There was in the Catholic Church during the reign of Emperor Trajanus Decius (r.249-251) a violent persecution against Christians. Cornelius, a Catholic priest, was named Pope to succeed Pope Fabian. There was a delay of fourteen months in electing this Pope at this time due to the Roman persecution. Pope Cornelius reigned as Pope from 251 to 253. During the persecution there were Catholics who denied their faith to avoid being put to death. Pope Cornelius agreed with St. Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage, that these lapsed Catholics should be allowed to repent and be readmitted into the Catholic faith. Pope Cornelius faced strong opposition from Novatian, who was considered to be the first antipope in the Catholic Church. Pope Cornelius stood his ground and allowed the lapsed Catholics who repented to return to their faith. The next Roman emperor, Gallus (r.251-253), renewed the persecution against the Catholics and Pope Cornelius was exiled to Civita Vecchia. He suffered greatly at this place and eventually died in 253. Saint Cyprian considered him to be a martyr for the faith.