Also known as
Born a slave, owned by Carpophorus, a Christian in the household of Caesar. His master entrusted a large sum to Callistus to open a bank, which took in several deposits, made several loans to people who refused to pay them back, and went broke. Knowing he would be personally blamed and punished, Callistus fled, but was caught and returned to his owner. Several depositors begged for his life, believing he had not lost the money, but had stolen and hid it. They were wrong; he wasn't a thief, just a victim, but he was sentenced to work the tin mines. By a quirk of Roman law, the ownership of Callistus was transferred from Carpophorus to the state, and when he was later ransomed out of his sentence with a number of other Christians, he became a free man. Pope Saint Zephyrinus put Callistus in charge of the Roman public burial grounds, today still called the Cemetery of Saint Callistus. Archdeacon. Sixteenth Pope.
Most of what we know about him has come down to us from his critics, including an anti-Pope of the day. He was on more than one occassion accused of heresy for such actions as permitting a return to Communion for sinners who had repented and done penance, or for proclaiming that differences in economic class were no barrier to marriage. This last put him in conflict with Roman civil law, but he stated that in matters concerning the Church and the sacraments, Church law trumped civil law. In both cases he taught what the Church has taught for centuries, including today, and though a whole host of schismatics wrote against him, his crime seems to have been to practice orthodox Christianity. Martyr.
legend says he was killed by being thrown down a well with a millstone around his neck, but there is no solid evidence