Saints Linus and Thecla

Two saints’ takes on Paul the Apostle.

Saints Linus and Thecla

Saint Linus was the second bishop of Rome, after Saint Peter. He’s mentioned by Paul the Apostle in 2 Timothy 4:21, but not much is known about him, besides his decree — echoing Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:2–15 — that women in churches should veil their heads.

Linus shares a feast day with Saint Thecla, one of the earliest female martyrs. In the apocryphal “Acts of Paul and Thecla,” Thecla leaves her fiancé and family after hearing Paul talk on the virtues of chastity. A virgin for the rest of her life, she becomes a traveling preacher and, in one extraordinary scene, baptizes herself in a tank of rabid sea lions during a failed attempt at her life.

This was all written within a few decades, so there seems to be some dialog happening between the Biblical Paul, who says things like “women will be saved through childbearing,” and Paul of Thecla’s Acts, encouraging for her a rather different life. One explanation says the Acts were written in response, with the sanctified example of Thecla’s virginity meant to correct a misperception that childbirth itself was a sort of resurrection.

How interesting!