Hippolytus of Rome

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The hieromartyr Hippolytus of Rome was a priest and an ecclesiastical writer of the third century. He is considered to have been antipope of the Church of Rome from about 217 to 235. He was among the most important Christian theologians of the third century, and a saint. His feast day is January 30.


The early life of Hippolytus is unknown. He was born about the year 170 and lived in Rome when young. Greek was his native tongue. He is believed to have been a disciple of Irenaeus of Lyons and to have met Origen. From the details of his work, Philosophoumena Hippolytus apparently was in Rome during the time Victor was the bishop of Rome. At the beginning of the third century he was a priest noted for his learning, eloquence, zeal, and moral earnestness. He was also noted to be a bishop of an unspecified city by Eusebius of Caesarea and Jerome and by the poet Prudentius as bishop of Portus, a port for Rome.

The Philosophoumena, that is a part of his larger work "Refutation of All Heresies", shows that he dissented from the compassionate views of Bps. Zephyrinus, whom he considered to be a weak man "unskilled the church's rule", and ‎Callistus I of Rome concerning the reception of backsliders and heretics who had repented. In the "Refutation of All Heresies" Hippolytus set out to refute the doctrines of the Gnostics and condemn heretics by showing that their views were taken from pagan philosophy and oriental theosophy.

Hippolytus also came into conflict with the opinions of the bishops of Rome on christological issues of the day to such an extant that came to allow himself to be elected a rival bishop of Rome, the first antipope.

Under the persecutions of emperor Maximinus Thrax Hippolytus was exiled to Sardinia in 235 where he died, reportedly a martyr. His body was returned to Rome and interred in a cemetery on the Via Tiburtina. By about 255, he was considered a martyred priest by the Church, indicating that he had been reconciled with the Church and not considered a schismatic.


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