St Pontian, Pope, & St Hippolytus, Priest, Martyrs

Ezekiel 18.1-10,13,30-32; Psalm 50; Matthew 19.13-15

Pontian was Bishop of Rome from 230 until 235. He was exiled in 235 to Sardinia during the persecution of Emperor Maximinus Thrax. He resigned the papacy, the first pope to do so, so as not to leave the office vacant during his exile.

Ironically, Hippolytus was the first anti-pope. He denounced Pope Zephyrinus as a heretic for doctrinal errors about the nature of Christ. When Zephyrinus died (in 217 or 218) Calixtus was elected to succeed him, whom Hippolytus denounced as morally lax for his teaching that grave sins, such as adultery, could be absolved. Hippolytus formed a dissident group which elected him as Pope. They remained in schism during the pontificates of Urban I and Pontian. Hippolytus was arrested during the persecution of 235 and was also exiled to Sardinia.

Tradition holds that Pontian and Hippolytus were reconciled during their mutual exile. Hippolytus resigned his ‘papacy’ and urged his followers to be reconciled to the new Roman pope, Anterus. Pontus and Hippolytus were both martyred in Syria. Their bodies were returned to Rome by Pope Anterus’ successor, Pope Fabian.

Posted in Daily Reflection.