‘The biography of [St Hippolytus] has been greatly obscured by legend, which has made him a soldier, the prison-warden of St Lawrence, and a martyr. Actually he was a disciple of St Irenaeus, a priest and an illustrious teacher in the Roman Church. Later, sorry to say, the first anti-pope. Because of his rigourism he became involved in a controversy with Pope Callistus I (217-222), but atoned for this failing by martyrdom. He is the author of numerous works and attained popularity even in the Eastern Church.
Happily the schism did not last long. Together with Pontian, the rival Pope, he was exiled to the "death island" of Sardinia, where both died. The remains of Hippolytus were accorded a special burial place near that of St Lawrence on the Tiburtinian Way. Later his body was transferred to the cloister of the Holy Redeemer upon the Leteninian Hill near Riezi. A marble statue of classic cast was found in the catacomb near St Lawrence.
...It may scandalise us moderns to learn that St Hippolytus fell into a quarrel with the lawful Pope. His contemporaries, however, did not judge him so harshly. Moreover, we may say with St Augustine: “Branches too numerous or luxuriant upon the Christian tree, the heavenly Surgeon cuts off with the knife of martyrdom”.
from The Church’s Year of Grace, 1953, by Pius Parsch, 1884-1954
Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God: that we, who on this day devoutly observe the festival of thy holy Martyrs blessed Pontian and Hippolytus, may thereby increase in godliness to the attainment of everlasting salvation; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon