21. St. Cornelius 251-253


After the death of St.Fabian there wasn’t a Pope for over a year as Emperor Decius made it impossible for Christians to elect a new leader. In 251 the Emperor went to war with the Goths,and as they say; when the cat’s away….ummm….the Christians will elect a new Pope. Unwillingly elected,Cornelius had to deal with a new schism of the Church that brought a new Anti-Pope named Novatian. Cornelius wrote a great deal of letters,many of which still survive. In one letter he gives a census of Christians in Rome at that time(around 50,000,out of over 800,000 Romans),and in another letter he mentions the office of Exorcist(the first time this word is mentioned in Catholic history). Emperor Decius was killed in battle,and replaced with the equally jerky Emperor Trebonianus Gallus. The new Emperor blamed a plague on those pesky Christians and exiled Cornelius in 253,and the Pope succumbed to the plague soon after.
St. Cornelius somehow has a huge following in Germany and during the middle ages he was one of the four Holy Marshals of God to pray to during illness and disease. His is also the patron saint of German lovers,the patron saint of cows and the patron saint of ear aches so yeah,he is all over the map for patron saints of the strangest variety of things. His head(!)is on display in the town of Kornelim√ľnster,Germany.


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