Saint of the Day – 22 April – Saint Pope Caius I (Died 613) – (presumed to be a Martyr) – also called Gaius, was the Bishop of Rome from 17 December 283 to his death in 296. Christian tradition makes him a native of the Dalmatian city of Salona, today Solin near Split, the son of a man also named Caius and a member of a noble family related to the Emperor Diocletian.
About 280, an early Christian house of worship was established on the site of Santa Susanna, which, like many of the earliest Christian meeting places, was in a house (domus ecclesiae). The domus belonged, according to the sixth-century acta, to brothers named Caius and Gabinus, prominent Christians. Caius may be this Pope, or Caius the Presbyter. Gabinus is the name given to the father of Saint Susanna (3rd century Martyr). Thus, sources state that Caius was the uncle of Saint Susanna.
Pope Caius reigned for 13 years until his death in 296 just before the Diocletian persecution. He was a relative of the Emperor Diocletian – instigator of one of the last great persecution of Christians in the early years of the Church. Early in his papacy Caius decreed that a man must be a priest before he could be ordained a bishop.
He is said to have been driven into hiding in the catacombs for eight years whence he died a confessor, however the source from which this information is gleaned is considered unreliable by most historians. His successor was Pope Marcellinus (died 304).
Caius’ tomb, with the original epitaph, was discovered in the catacomb of Callixtus and in it the ring with which he used to seal his letters. In 1631, his alleged residence in Rome was turned into a church. However, it was demolished in 1880 to make room for the Ministry of War, on the Via XX Settembre and his relics were transferred to the chapel of the Barberini family in the Lateran.
Saint Caius’s feast day is celebrated on 22 April, as is that of Saint Pope Soter (see his Biography- https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2018/04/22/saint-of-the-day-st-pope-soter-died-c-174/). Both are mentioned under 22 April in the Roman Martyrology, the official list of recognised saints. The entry for Saint Caius is as follows: “At Rome, in the cemetery of Callistus on the Via Appia, the burial of Saint Caius, Pope, who, fleeing from the persecution of Diocletian, died as a confessor of the faith.”
St Caius is venerated in Dalmatia and Venice. In Florence, the church of San Gaggio on the via Senese was dedicated to him, the term Gaggio is a corruption of the name Cajo.