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Saint Hippolytus

Saint Hippolytus
  • Century: 2nd & 3rd Century
  • Patronage: Horses, Prison Guards, Prison Officers, Prison workers
  • Feast Day: January 30th

St. Hippolytus of Rome was the most important 3rd century Theologian in the Christian Church, in his time.  He was a disciple of Irenaeus, who was a disciple of Polycarp.  He was in conflict with the Popes of his time, and it appears he headed off a schismatic group as a rival bishop of Rome.  For this reason, he is sometimes considered the first antipope.  He opposed the Roman Bishops who softened the penitential system to accommodate the large number of new pagan converts.  However, he was reconciled to the Church when he died as a martyr. 

As a presbyter of the Church at Rome under Pope Zephyrinus, he was distinguished for his learning and eloquence.  At this time, Origen of Alexandria heard him preach.  He accused Pope Zephyrinus of modalism, the heresy which held that the names “Father and Son” are simply different names for the same subject.  He was an ethical conservative and was scandalized when Pope Callixtus-I, extended absolution to Christians who had committed grave sins, such as adultery.  At this time, he allowed himself to be elected as a rival Bishop of Rome, and continued to attach Pope Urban I and Pope Pontian. 

Under the persecution by Emperor Maximinus Thrax, both Hippolytus and Pope Pontian were exiled together in 235 to Sardinia, and it is there that he was reconciled to the Church before his death, because under Pope Fabian both their bodies were brought back to Rome.  The two bodies were interred in Rome, and the document indicates that Hippolytus was considered a Catholic martyr and gives him the rank of a Priest, not a Bishop, indicating that before his death the schismatic group was received again into the bosom of the Church.   

Practical Take Away

St. Hippolytus was a Priest that opposed the Roman Bishops who softened the penitential system to accommodate the large number of new pagan converts.  However, he was reconciled to the Church when he died as a martyr.  Both he and Pope Pontian were exiled together in 235 under the persecution of Emperor Maximinus Thrax, and while in exile were martyred.  Their bodies were brought back to Rome and they were interred there, showing the reconciliation between himself and the Church of Rome.