Who was St Clement?

“Follow the saints, because those who follow them will become saints.” – St Clement

St Clement is said to have been an ex-slave to the family of Flavius Clemens, the cousin of Emperor Domitian, and he may have been of Jewish descent. According to tradition, he was baptised by St Peter.

Clement was reputedly the third successor of Peter (following Cletus), and governed the Church for about ten years (AD 88-97). Origen and others refer to him as the Clement whom Paul calls a fellow labourer (Phil. 4:3), but this is uncertain. Irenaeus says that Clement “had seen and consorted with the blessed apostles”.

In art, St. Clement can be recognized as a pope with an anchor and fish. Sometimes there is an addition of a millstone, keys, a fountain that sprung forth at his prayers, or a book. St. Clement, with his anchor, is depicted in the central panel of the stained glass window behind the main altar in our church.

According to accepted Church history, after St Clement converted a patrician named Theodora and her husband Sisinnius – along with 423 others – the people raised an opposition against him. He was banished by Emperor Trajan to the Crimea where he was made to work in the quarries. The nearest drinking water was six miles away, but Clement found a nearer spring for the use of the Christian captives.

He apparently preached so zealously among the prisoners working in the mines that soon 75 churches were needed to serve the converts. His success drew further attention causing him to be condemned for his faith, and it is said that he was thrown into the Black Sea with an anchor tied around his neck. For this reason our patronal song speaks of holding to the strong anchor of faith, and the anchor is at the heart of our logo.

St Clement is the patron saint of the Guild that governs the authority responsible for lighthouses and lightships. The legend of his watery martyrdom has also led to such marine dedications as St Clement’s Isle in Mount’s Bay, Cornwall.