The Parish Church of St. Clement

St Clement's, the Living Church in the Ancient Town of Sandwich Kent

 
St. Clement's Church Sandwich Kent

Stained glass windowSt. Clement of Rome

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 with a book.

St. Clement with his anchor is depicted in the central panel of the stained glass window behind the main altar in St. Clement's church Sandwich.

Details of St Clement's life are unknown. He may have been an ex-slave to the family of Flavius Clemens, the cousin of Emperor Domitian, and he may have been of Jewish descent. He is said to have been 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".

According to accepted church history, after converting a patrician named Theodora and her husband Sisinnius and 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. Unfortunately, his success drew further unwanted 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.

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.