Li'nus (usually Λῖνος, but prop. Λίνος, the name originally of a mythological and musical personage, perhaps from λίνον, linen), one of the Christians at Rome whose salutations Paul sent to Timothy (2Ti 4:21). A.D. 64. He is said to have been the first bishop of Rome after the martyrdom of Peter and Paul (Irenseus, Adv. Haeres. 3:3; Eusebius. Hist. Eccles. 3:2, 4, 13, 14, 31; 5:6; comp. Jerome, De Viris. Illust. 15; Augustine, Epist. 53:2; Theodoret, ad 2 Tim. 4:21), but there is some discrepancy in the early statement respecting his date (see Heinichen a d Euseb. 3:187; Burton, Hist. of the Christ. Church; Lardner, Works, 2:31, 32, 176,187). "Eusebius and Theodoret, followed by Baronius and Tillemont (Hist. Eccles. 2:165, 591), state that he became bishop of Rome after the death of St. Peter. On the other hand, the words of Ireneus, '[Peter and Paul] when they founded and built up the Church [of Rome], committed the office of its episcopate to Linus,' certainly admit, or rather imply the meaning that he held that office before the death of St. Peter; as if the two great apostles, having, in the discharge of their own peculiar office, completed the organization of the Church at Rome, left it under the government of Linus, and passed on to preach and teach in some new region. This proceeding would be in accordance with the practice of the apostles in other places. The earlier appointment of Linus is asserted as a fact by Ruffinus (Praecf. isn Clem. Recosgn.), and by the author of chapter 46, book 7 of the Apostolic Constitutions. It is accepted as the true statement of the case by bishop Pearson (De Serie et Successione Priorum Roman Episcoporum, 2:5, § 1) and by Fleury (Hist. Eccl. 2:26). Some persons have objected that the undistinguished mention of the name of Linus between the names of two other Roman Christians in 2Ti 4:21 is a proof that he was not at that time bishop of Rome. But even Tillemont admits that such a way of introducing the bishop's name is in accordance with the simplicity of that early age. No lofty pre-eminence was attributed to the episcopal office in the apostolic times." According to the Roman Breviary, Linus was born at Volterra, but an old papal catalogue represents him as an Etrurian. According to tradition, he went to Rome when 22 years of age, made there the acquaintance of Peter, and was sent by him to Besanqon, in France, to preach the Gospel. After his return to Rome Peter appointed him his coadjutor; but, according to the Breviary, he was the one who prinus post Petrum gubernavit ecclesiam. He is said to have enacted, on his accession to the bishopric, that, in accordance with 1Co 11:5, women should never enter the church with their heads uncovered.
The duration of his episcopate is given by Eusebius (whose It. E. 3:16, and Chronicon give inconsistent evidence) as A.D. 68-80; by Tillemont, who, however, reproaches Pearson with departing from the chronology of Eusebius, as 66-78; by Baronius as 67-78; and by Pearson as 55-67. Pearson, in the treatise already quoted (1:10), gives weighty reasons for distrusting the chronology of Eusebius as regards the years of the early bishops of Rome, and he derives his own opinion from certain very ancient (but interpolated) lists of those bishops (see 1:13, and 2:5). This point has been subsequently considered by Baraterius (De Successione Antiquissima Eisc. Rome. 1740), who gives A.D. 56-67 as the date of the episcopate of Linus.
"The statement of Ruffinus, that Linus and Cletus were bishops in Rome while St. Peter was alive, has been quoted in support of a theory which sprang up in the 17th century, received the sanction even of Hammond in his controversy with Blondel (Works, ed. 1684, 4:825; Episcopatus Jura, 5:1, § 11), was held with some slight modification by Baraterius, and has recently been revived. It is supposed that Linus was bishop in Rome only of the Christians of Gentile origin, while at the same time another bishop exercised the same authority over the Jewish Christians there. 'Tertullian's assertion (De Prescr. Haeret. § 32) that Clement [the third bishop] of Rome was consecrated by St. Peter has been quoted also as corroborating this theory, but it does not follow from the words of Tertullian that Clement's consecration took place immediately before he became bishop of Rome; and the statement of Ruffinns, so far as it lends any support to the above-named theory, is shown to be without foundation by Pearson (2:3, 4). Tilemont's observations (page 590) in reply to Pearson only show that the establishment of two contemporary bishops in one city was contemplated in ancient times as a possible provisional arrangement to meet certain temporary difficulties. The actual limitation of the authority of Linus to a section of the Church in Rome remains to be proved. Ruffinus's statement ought, doubtless, to be interpreted in accordance with that of his contemporary Epiphanius (Adv. Haer. 27:6, page 107), to the effect that Linus and Cletus were bishops of Rome in succession, not contemporaneously. The facts were, however, differently viewed, (1) by an interpolator of the Gesta Pontificum Damasi, quoted by J. Voss in his second epistle to A. Rivet (App. to Pearson's Vindiciae Ignatiane); (2) by Bede (Vita S. Benedlicti, § 7, page 146, edit. Stevenson), when he was seeking a precedent for two colltemporaneous abbots presiding in one monastery and (3) by Rabanus Malrtns (De Chorepiscopis, in Opp. ed. Migne, 4:1197), who ingeniously claims primitive authority for the institution of chorepiscopi on the suppossition that Linus and Cietus were never bishops with full powers, but were contemporaneous chorepiscopi employed by St. Peter in his absence from Rome, and at his request, to ordain clergymen for the Church at Rome." Linus is reckoned by Pseudo-Hippolytus, and in the Greek Menaea, among the seventy disciples. According to the Breviary, he cured the possessed, raised the dead, and was beheaded at the instigation of the consul Saturninus, although he had restored the latter's daughter from a dangerous illness. He was buried in the Vatican, by the side of St. Peter. Various days are stated by different authorities in the Western Church, and by the Eastern Church, as the day of his death. According to the most generally received tradition, he died on September 23. A narrative of the martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul, printed in the Bibliotheca Patrum (Paris, 1644, volume 8), and certain pontifical decrees, are incorrectly ascribed to Linus, but he is generally considered as the author of a history of Peter's dispute with Simon Magus. See Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 8:421; Lipsius, Die Papst Kataloge des Eusebius (Kiel, 1868, 8vo).