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Saints Pontian and Hippolytus

Two men died for the faith after harsh treatment and exhaustion in the mines of Sardinia. One had been pope for five years, the other an antipope for 18.

Saints Pontian and Hippolytus

Two men died for the faith after harsh treatment and exhaustion in the mines of Sardinia. One had been pope for five years, the other an antipope for 18. They died reconciled. Born circa 200 AD, Pontian was a Roman who served as pope from 230 to 235. During his reign he held a synod in Alexandria which confirmed the excommunication of the great theologian Origen.

Pontian was banished to exile by the Roman emperor in 235 and resigned so that a successor could be elected in Rome. He was sent to the “unhealthy” island of Sardinia, where he died in October 235 AD of harsh treatment. With him was Hippolytus with whom he was reconciled.

The bodies of both were brought back to Rome and buried as martyrs with solemn rites.

Hippolytus was born in 170 AD and as a priest in Rome he censured the pope for not coming down hard enough on a certain heresy. When Callistus was elected pope, Hippolytus accused him of being too lenient with penitents and had himself elected antipope by a group of followers. He remained in schism through the reigns of three popes. In 235, he also was banished to the island of Sardinia and died there the same year. 

Hippolytus was a rigorist. He is the most important theologian whose writings are the fullest source of our knowledge of the Roman liturgy and the structure of the Church in the second and third centuries.

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