Saint of the Day – 26 October – St Pope Evaristus (c 44 – c 108) – Martyr, Bishop of Rome – Pope Evaristus accounted as the fifth Bishop of Rome, holding office from c 99 to his death c 108. He was also known as Aristus.
He succeeded Saint Anacletus on the throne of Saint Peter, elected during the second general persecution, under the reign of Domitian. That emperor no doubt did not know that the Christian pontificate was being perpetuated in the shadows of the catacombs. The text of the Liber Pontificalis, says of the new pope:
“Evaristus, born in Greece of a Jewish father named Juda, originally from the city of Bethlehem, reigned for thirteen years, six months and two days, under the reigns of Domitian, Nerva and Trajan, from the Consulate of Valens and Veter (96) until that of Gallus and Bradua (108). This pontiff divided among the priests the titles of the city of Rome. By a constitution he established seven deacons who were to assist the bishop and serve as authentic witnesses for him. During the three ordinations which he conducted in the month of December, he promoted six priests, two deacons and five bishops, destined for various churches. Evaristus received the crown of martyrdom. He was buried near the body of Blessed Peter in the Vatican, on the sixth day of the Calends of November (25 October 108). The episcopal throne remained vacant for nineteen days.”
It was at the same time as Saint Ignatius, the illustrious bishop of Antioch, that Pope Saint Evaristus gave his life by martyrdom. The acts of his martyrdom are lost but we perceive that the same faith, heroism and devotion united the churches of the East and of the West. He is often represented with a sword because he was decapitated, or with a crib, because it is believed that he was born in Bethlehem, from which his father migrated.