Saturday, July 4, 2020

Saints for Today: Cornelius, Pope & Martyr

Must Read

Saints for Today: Mary Euphrasia Pelletier, Religious (1796 – 1868)

Dr. Pelletier baptized his infant daughter at home because of the anti-Catholic persecution then raging.

Saints for Today: St. Irenaeus, Bishop & Martyr (130-220)

Irenaeus is without a doubt one of the greatest theologians of the second century.

Announcement of Death of Douglas McNeill, Former Priest of the Diocese

To the people of the Diocese of Gallup, The Diocese of Gallup has been informed of the passing of Douglas...
Dr. Jean Lee
Jean M. Lee, M.A., D.Min., is a licensed behavioral health and substance abuse counselor, founding a nonprofit, state-licensed behavior health counseling agency and Christian gift/book store. Volunteer work includes: Jail ministry, Legion of Mary membership, door-to-door evangelization, and writing a weekly newspaper column titled “Faith and Inspiration: Encyclopedia of Saints for Today.” A Catholic revert after 32 years away from the Church, she is devout in the Catholic faith, loves the saints, and lives a deeper spiritual/religious and more joyful life since returning to the Church.

Died 253 AD. Feast Day: September 16.

Cornelius is an example of a saint whose patronage is based on his name, combined with some confused iconography. The name Cornelius comes from the Latin word for “horn,” such as a bull or ram’s horn. In art, St. Cornelius is usually shown holding a horn, although more often than not it’s a curved brass horn, the type used in the Middle Ages to rally troops in battle. As it happens, these war horns look almost exactly like the ear trumpets or ear horns that hard-of-hearing people once used to amplify sounds. And so St. Cornelius has become the patron saint of those with hearing trouble.

Cornelius belonged to one of the most distinguished patrician families in Rome. He was a priest in the Church of Rome when he was chosen to succeed Pope Fabian. In 251, when he was elected pope, the Church in Rome was in disarray. Christians had just endured an especially violent period of persecution under the late emperor Decius. Across the realm were Christians who had abandoned their faith and sacrificed to the pagan gods, because of either torture or fear of a terrible death.

The main issue facing Cornelius was the treatment of Christians who had denied their faith during the persecutions. He supported St. Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, whose council provided for the restoration of Communion after various forms of penance, against Novatian, a Roman priest who asserted that the apostates should not be pardoned.

A faction within the Church insisted the lapsed Christians should never be permitted to return, but Pope Cornelius took a more lenient view. He rebuked the harshness of those who maintained that the lapsi (lapsed Christians) were unforgivable. Arguing that for sincere penitents God’s forgiveness had no limit, Cornelius declared that those who wished to return to the faith would be welcomed back after performing a proper penance.

Cornelius’s pontificate was short. In 252 a plague broke out in Rome, and the pagans blamed the Christians. Cornelius was seized and exiled to Civitavecchia, where he was so badly mistreated that he died in 253. Although his death was not violent, the Roman Christians venerated him as a martyr because of the sufferings he’d endured in exile.

St. Cornelius’s original tombstone can still be found in the catacomb of San Callisto, outside Rome. It reads simply, “Cornelius, Martyr.”


Craughwell, Thomas J. “This Saint Will Change Your Life.” Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2007.
Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. “The Encyclopedia of Saints.” New York, NY: Checkmark Books, 2001.
Trigilio, Rev. John, Ph.D, Th.D, and Rev. Kenneth Brighenti, Ph.D. “Saints for Dummies.” Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, 2010.




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest News

Where to give and receive help during the Coronavirus

Are you in need of help, or would you like to give back in some way to your local community? Contact any of these organizations.


Other recent stories:

Meet the Diocese’s New Director of Religious Education

The Director of Religious Education oversees mission work, youth ministry, and catechesis for the whole diocese.

One Loss, One Win: Supreme Court Prioritizes Abortion in One Case but Supports Religious Education in Another

The U.S. Bishops spoke out against one ruling and in favor of another.

Considering a call as a deacon? The Diocese of Gallup’s diaconate program is enrolling for Fall 2020

"Deacons are called to service, deacons are called to assist at the altar, deacons are called to make up what is lacking in other ministries of the Church."

AZ Bishops Welcome Supreme Court Decision on DACA

"We are very much mindful that DACA children were often brought to this country at a very young age and through no responsibility of their own.  They were raised in the United States, attend our schools, make positive contributions to our society, and do not know any other country but our own."


More Articles Like This