Hippolytus of Rome

Hippolytus (c. 170–235 AD) was one of the most important second-third century Christian theologians, whose provenance, identity and corpus remain elusive to scholars and historians. Suggested communities include Palestine, Egypt, Anatolia, Rome and regions of the mideast. The best historians of literature in the ancient church, including Eusebius of Caesarea and Jerome, openly confess they cannot name where Hippolytus the biblical commentator and theologian served in leadership. They had read his works but did not possess evidence of his community. Photios I of Constantinople describes him in his Bibliotheca (cod. 121) as a disciple of Irenaeus, who was said to be a disciple of Polycarp, and from the context of this passage it is supposed that he suggested that Hippolytus so styled himself.[1] This assertion is doubtful.[2] One older theory asserts he came into conflict with the popes of his time and seems to have headed a schismatic group as a rival to the Bishop of Rome, thus becoming an Antipope. In this view, he opposed the Roman Popes who softened the penitential system to accommodate the large number of new pagan converts. However, he was reconciled to the Church before he died as a martyr.[2]

Starting in the fourth century, various legends arose about him, identifying him as a priest of the Novatianist schism or as a soldier converted by Saint Lawrence. He has also been confused with another martyr of the same name.[2] Pope Pius IV identifies him as "Saint Hippolytus, Bishop of Pontus" who was martyred in the reign of Severus Alexander through his inscription on a statue found at the Church of Saint Lawrence in Rome and kept at the Vatican as photographed and published in Brunsen.[3]

Saint Hippolytus
Paris Louvre Retable Hippolyte 285
The Martyrdom of Saint Hippolytus (French altarpiece c. 1225–1250)
Bornc. 170 AD
Diedc. 235 AD
Venerated in
PatronageBibbiena, Italy; horses


Little is known for certain about his community of origin. One Victorian theory suggested that as a presbyter of the church at Rome under Pope Zephyrinus (199–217 AD), Hippolytus was distinguished for his learning and eloquence. It was at this time that Origen, then a young man, heard him preach.[4][1]

In this view, Hippolytus accused Pope Zephyrinus of modalism, the heresy which held that the names Father and Son are simply different names for the same subject. Hippolytus championed the Logos doctrine of the Greek apologists, most notably Justin Martyr, which distinguished the Father from the Logos ("Word"). An ethical conservative, he was scandalized when Pope Callixtus I (217–222 AD) extended absolution to Christians who had committed grave sins, such as adultery.[5]

Some suggest Hippolytus himself advocated a pronounced rigorism.[6] At this time, he seems to have allowed himself to be elected as a rival Bishop of Rome, and continued to attack Pope Urban I (222–230 AD) and Pope Pontian (230–235 AD).[2] G. Salmon suggests that Hippolytus was the leader of the Greek-speaking Christians of Rome.[7] Allen Brent sees the development of Roman house-churches into something akin to Greek philosophical schools gathered around a compelling teacher.[8]

Also under this view: during the persecution at the time of Emperor Maximinus Thrax, Hippolytus and Pontian were exiled together in 235 to Sardinia,[9] likely dying in the mines.[7] It is quite probable that, before his death there, he was reconciled to the other party at Rome, for, under Pope Fabian (236–250 AD), his body and that of Pontian were brought to Rome. The so-called Chronography of 354 (more precisely, the Liberian Catalogue) reports that on August 13, probably in 236, the two bodies were interred in Rome, that of Hippolytus in a cemetery on the Via Tiburtina,[9] his funeral being conducted by Justin the Confessor. This document indicates that, by about 255, Hippolytus was considered a martyr and gives him the rank of a priest, not of a bishop, an indication that before his death the schismatic was received again into the Church.[2][1]


The name Hippolytus appears in various hagiographical and martyrological sources of the early churches. The facts about the life of the writer Hippolytus, as opposed to other celebrated Christians who bore the name Hippolytus, were eventually lost in the West, perhaps partly because he wrote in Hellenic Greek. Pope Damasus I dedicated to a Hippolytus one of his famous epigrams,[1] referring to a priest of the Novatianist schism, a view later forwarded by Prudentius in the 5th century in his "Passion of St Hippolytus". In the Passionals of the 7th and 8th centuries he is represented as a soldier converted by Saint Lawrence, a legend that long survived in the Roman Breviary. He was also confused with a martyr of the same name who was buried in Portus, of which city he was believed to have been a bishop,[2] who was put to death by drowning in a deep well.[9]

According to Prudentius' account, a martyr Hippolytus was dragged to death by wild horses,[10] a striking parallel to the story of the mythological Hippolytus, who was dragged to death by wild horses at Athens. He described the subterranean tomb of the saint and states that he saw there a picture representing Hippolytus' execution. He also confirms August 13 as the date on which a Hippolytus was celebrated but this again refers to the convert of Lawrence, as preserved in the Menaion of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The latter account led to a Hippolytus being considered the patron saint of horses. During the Middle Ages, sick horses were brought to St Ippolyts, Hertfordshire, England, where a church is dedicated to him.[11]


Roman sculpture, maybe of Hippolytus, found in 1551 and used for the attribution of the Apostolic Tradition

Controversy surrounds the corpus of the writer Hippolytus. In the Victorian Era, scholars claimed his principal work to be the Refutation of all Heresies.[2] Of its ten books, Book I was the most important.[5] It was long known and was printed (with the title Philosophumena) among the works of Origen. Books II and III are lost, and Books IV–X were found, without the name of the author,[1] in a monastery of Mount Athos in 1842. E. Miller published them in 1851 under the title Philosophumena, attributing them to Origen of Alexandria. Recent scholarship prefers to treat the text as the work of an unknown author, perhaps of Roman origin.

In 1551 a marble statue of a seated figure (originally female, perhaps personifying one of the sciences) was purportedly found in the cemetery of the Via Tiburtina and was heavily restored. On the sides of the seat was carved a paschal cycle, and on the back the titles of numerous writings by Hippolytus.[6][1] Many other works are listed by Eusebius of Caesarea and Jerome. The research of Guarducci showed the original statue was a representation of a female figure, reopening the question of its original purpose. Allen Brent analyzed the title list of the statue, questioning Hippolytan authorship of some works.

Hippolytus' voluminous writings, which for variety of subject can be compared with those of Origen, embrace the spheres of exegesis, homiletics, apologetics and polemic, chronography, and ecclesiastical law. The Apostolic Tradition, if it is the work of Hippolytus, recorded the first liturgical reference to the Virgin Mary, as part of the ordination rite of a bishop.[12]

Of exegetical works attributed to Hippolytus, the best preserved are the Commentary on the Prophet Daniel and the Commentary on the Song of Songs.[2] This is the earliest attested Christian interpretation of the Song, covering only the first three chapters to Song 3:7.

The commentary on the Song of Songs survives in two Georgian manuscripts, a Greek epitome, a Paleo-Slavonic florilegium, and fragments in Armenian and Syriac as well as in many patristic quotations, especially in Ambrose of Milan's Exposition on Psalm 118 (119). It is generally regarded as an instruction relating to a post-Baptismal rite of anointing with oil as a symbol of receiving the Holy Spirit. The commentary was originally written as part of a mystagogy, an instruction for new Christians. Scholars have usually assumed the Commentary On the Song of Songs was originally composed for use during Passover, a season favored in the West for Baptism.[13] Hippolytus supplied his commentary with a fully developed introduction known as the schema isagogicum, indicating his knowledge of the rhetorical conventions for teachers discussing classical works.[14] He employs a common rhetorical trope, ekphrasis, using images on the walls or floors of Greco-Roman homes, and in the catacombs as paintings or mosaics.[15] Origen felt that the Song should be reserved for the spiritually mature and that studying it might be harmful for the novice.

Older scholars claimed Hippolytus authored a work now entitled the Apostolic Tradition, which contains the earliest known ritual of ordination.[9] The influence of Hippolytus was felt chiefly through his works on chronography and ecclesiastical law.[1] His chronicle of the world, a compilation embracing the whole period from the creation of the world up to the year 234, formed a basis for many chronographical works both in the East and West.[16][1] It is from the Apostolic Tradition that the current words of episcopal ordination in the Catholic Church come from, as updated by Pope Paul VI.

In the great compilations of ecclesiastical law that arose in the East since the 3rd century, the Church Orders many canons were attributed to Hippolytus, for example in the Canons of Hippolytus or the Constitutions through Hippolytus. How much of this material is genuinely his, how much of it worked over, and how much of it wrongly attributed to him, can no longer be determined beyond dispute,[1] however a great deal was incorporated into the Fetha Negest, which once served as the constitutional basis of law in Ethiopia — where he is still remembered as Abulides. During the early 20th century the work known as The Egyptian Church Order was identified as the Apostolic Tradition and attributed to Hippolytus; presently this attribution is hotly contested.

Differences in style and theology lead some scholars to conclude that some of the works attributed to Hippolytus actually derive from a second author.[2] Two small but potentially important works, On the Twelve Apostles of Christ and On the Seventy Apostles of Christ, are often neglected because the manuscripts were lost during most of the church age and then found in Greece in the 19th century. As most scholars consider them to not have been written by him, they are often ascribed to "Pseudo-Hippolytus". The two are included in an appendix to the works of Hippolytus in the voluminous collection of Early Church Fathers.[17] The work on the 70 apostles is noteworthy as a (potentially) early source.

A consensus of scholarship agrees on a core of authentic texts composed by the second-third century writer Hippolytus, regardless of disputes concerning his community, or the exact dates of his biography: these are the biblical commentaries, including On Daniel, On David and Goliath, On the Song of Songs (partially extant), On the Blessings of Isaac and Jacob, and On the Antichrist. These form a sound basis for exploring and understanding his theology and biblical doctrines.


Hippolytus is an important figure in the development of Christian eschatology. In his biblical compendium and topical study On Christ and the Antichrist and in his Commentary on the Prophet Daniel Hippolytus gave his interpretation of the second advent of Christ.[18]

With the onset of persecutions during the reign of Septimius Severus, many early Christian writers treated topics of apocalyptic eschatology. On Christ and the Antichrist is one of the earliest works. It is thought Hippolytus was generally influenced by Irenaeus.[19] However, unlike Irenaeus, Hippolytus focuses on the meaning of prophecy for the Church in his own time. Of the dogmatic works, On Christ and the Antichrist survives in a complete state and was probably written about 202.

Hippolytus follows the long-established usage in interpreting Daniel's seventy prophetic weeks to be weeks of literal years. Hippolytus gave an explanation of Daniel's paralleling prophecies of chapters 2 and 7, which he, as with the other fathers, specifically relates to the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans. His interpretation of events and their significance is Christological.[20] He stated that Rome would be partitioned into ten kingdoms and these in turn would be followed by the rise of the dread Antichrist, who would oppress the saints. This would be ended by Christ's Second Advent, the resurrection of the righteous, and the destruction of said Antichrist. After which would come the judgment and burning up of the wicked.[21]

Hippolytus did not subscribe to the belief that the Second Coming was imminent.[22] He was apparently the first to set a specific date for the second Advent through calculation—AD 500—which was 260 years after his time. He assumed, like Irenaeus his teacher, that inasmuch as God made all things in six days, and these days symbolize a thousand years each, in six thousand years from the creation the end will come. He apparently based his calculation on the Septuagint which had the world beginning about 5500 BC.[23][24]

Feast days

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the feast day of St Hippolytus falls on August 13, which is also the Apodosis of the Feast of the Transfiguration. Because on the Apodosis the hymns of the Transfiguration are to be repeated, the feast of St. Hippolytus may be transferred to the day before or to some other convenient day. The Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrates the feast of "St Hippolytus Pope of Rome" on January 30, who may or may not be the same individual.

The Roman Catholic Church celebrates St Hippolytus jointly with St Pontian on August 13. The feast of Saint Hippolytus formerly celebrated on 22 August as one of the companions of Saint Timotheus was a duplicate of his 13 August feast and for that reason was deleted when the General Roman Calendar was revised in 1969.[25] Earlier editions of the Roman Martyrology referred to the 22 August Hippolytus as Bishop of Porto. The Catholic Encyclopedia sees this as "connected with the confusion regarding the Roman presbyter resulting from the Acts of the Martyrs of Porto. It has not been ascertained whether the memory of the latter was localized at Porto merely in connection with the legend in Prudentius, without further foundation, or whether a person named Hippolytus was really martyred at Porto, and afterwards confounded in legend with Hippolytus of Rome."[26] This opinion is shared by a Benedictine source.[27]

Earlier editions of the Roman Martyrology also mentioned on 30 January a Hippolytus venerated at Antioch, but the details it gave were borrowed from the story of Hippolytus of Rome.[28] Modern editions of the Roman Martyrology omit all mention of this supposed distinct Saint Hippolytus of Antioch.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Hippolytus (writer)" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 519.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Cross 2005
  3. ^ Hippolytus and His Age, Volume I, frontispiece, 1852, p. 424.
  4. ^ Jerome's De Viris Illustribus # 61; cp. Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica vi. 14, 10.
  5. ^ a b "Saint Hippolytus of Rome." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 15 Aug. 2010
  6. ^ a b Kirsch, Johann Peter. "St. Hippolytus of Rome." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 16 February 2016
  7. ^ a b "Hippolytus Romanus", Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature (Henry Wace, ed.), John Murray, London, 1911
  8. ^ Brent, Allen. Hippolytus and the Roman church in the third century : communities in tension before the emergence of a monarch-bishop, 1995, Brill, ISBN 9004102450
  9. ^ a b c d Fr. Paolo O. Pirlo, SHMI (1997). "Sts. Pontian & Hippolytus". My First Book of Saints. Sons of Holy Mary Immaculate - Quality Catholic Publications. pp. 179–180. ISBN 978-971-91595-4-4.
  10. ^ John Foxe, Book of Martyrs (E. Hall, 1833) p41.
  11. ^ Ippollitts (A Guide to Old Hertfordshire)
  12. ^ McNally, Terrence, What Every Catholic Should Know about Mary 2009 ISBN 1-4415-1051-6 pages 68–69
  13. ^ Hippolytus' Commentary on Daniel 1.17
  14. ^ Mansfeld 1997 notes Origen's use of the schema, but not Hippolytus'.
  15. ^ Smith, Yancy. The Mystery of Anointing: Hippolytus' Commentary On the Song of Songs in Social and Critical Contexts. Gorgias Studies in Early Christianity and Patristics 62. 2015. ISBN 978-1-4632-0218-7 page 9, 34
  16. ^ [1] The Chronicon of Hippolytus T.C. Schmidt and Nick Nicholas, 2010, second edition (rough draft)
  17. ^ Ante-Nicean Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson and A. Cleaveland Coxe, vol. 5 (Peabody MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 254–6
  18. ^ Dunbar, David G.. “The Delay of the Parousia in Hippolytus”. Vigiliae Christianae 37.4 (1983): 313–327
  19. ^ Dunbar, David G., The Eschatology of Hippolytus of Rome, (Ann Arbor: University Press, 1979)
  20. ^ Daley, Brian. The Hope of the Early Church: A Handbook of Patristic Eschatology, CUP, 1991 ISBN 9780521352581
  21. ^ Froom 1950, p. 271.
  22. ^ Cummings, Owen F., Eucharistic Doctors: A Theological History, Paulist Press, 2005 ISBN 9780809142439
  23. ^ Froom 1950, p. 278.
  24. ^ Hippolytus, On Daniel, ch. 2, 4–6
  25. ^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 135
  26. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia:Sts. Hippolytus
  27. ^ Saint of the Day, 22 August
  28. ^ Saint of the Day, 30 January


  • Achelis, Hans Hippolytstudien (Leipzig, 1897)
  • Adhémar d'Ales, La Théologie de Saint Hippolyte (Paris, 1906). (G.K.)
  • Bunsen, Hippolytus and his Age (1852, 2nd ed., 1854; Ger. ed., 1853)
  • Cross, F. L. (2005). The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford University Press.
  • Döllinger, Hippolytus und Kallistus (Regensb. 1853; Eng. transl., Edinb., 1876)
  • Gerhard Ficker, Studien zur Hippolytfrage (Leipzig, 1893)
  • Froom, LeRoy (1950). The Prophetic Faith of our Fathers. 1. Archived from the original (DjVu and PDF) on 2014-11-06. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  • Hippolytus (170–236). Commentary on Daniel, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 5.
  • Hippolytus (170–236b). Treatise on Christ and Antichrist, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 5.
  • Hippolytus, The Treatise on the Apostolic Tradition of St. Hippolytus of Rome, Bishop and Martyr. Trans Gregory Dix. (London: Alban Press, 1992)
  • J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers vol. i, part ii (London, 1889–1890).
  • Mansfeld, Jaap (1997). Prolegomena: Questions to be Settled before the Study of an Author or a Text. Brill Academic Publishers.
  • Karl Johannes Neumann, Hippolytus von Rom in seiner Stellung zu Staat und Welt, part i (Leipzig, 1902)
  • Schmidt, T.C. & Nicholas, N., The Chronicon of Hippolytus, second edition (English translation, rough draft), (2010).
  • Smith, Yancy W. (2008). Hippolytus' Commentary On the Song of Songs in Social and Critical Context. Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University.

Further reading

  • Aragione, Gabriella, and Enrico Norelli (Eds) (2011) Des évêques, des écoles et des hérétiques. Actes du colloque international sur la Réfutation de toutes les hérésies, Genève, 13-14 juin 2008 Éditions du Zèbre, 2011
  • Brent, Allen (1995). Hippolytus and the Roman church in the third century : communities in tension before the emergence of a monarch-bishop. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-10245-3.
  • Cerrato, J. A. (2002). Hippolytus between East and West : the commentaries and the provenance of the corpus. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-924696-0.
  • Eusebius (1927). The Ecclesiastical History and the Martyrs of Palestine. Hugh Jackson Lawlor and John Ernest Leonard Oulton, trans. London: Macmillan.
  • Grant, Robert (1970). Augustus to Constantine: The Thrust of the Christian Movement into the Roman World. New York: Harper and Row.
  • Hippolytus (1934). Easton, Burton Scott (ed.). The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus. New York: Macmillan.
  • Hippolytus (2001). On the Apostolic Tradition: an English Version with Introd. and Commentary by Alistair Stewart-Sykes, in Popular Patristics Series. Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press. ISBN 0-88141-233-3
  • Mansfeld, Jaap (1992). Heresiography in context : Hippolytus' Elenchos as a source for Greek philosophy. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-09616-5.
  • Nautin, Pierre (1947). Hippolyte et Josipe. Contribution De La Litterature Chretienne Du Troisieme Siecle. Les Editions du Cerf
  • Quasten, Johannes (1953). Patrology: the Anti-Nicene literature after Irenaeus. Westminster, MD: Newman.
  • Roberts, Alexander; Donaldson, Sir James; Coxe, A. Cleveland, eds. (1971). The Ante-Nicene fathers : Translations of the writings of the fathers down to A.D. 325: Hippolytus, Cyprian, Caius, Novatian, appendix. 5. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
  • Wordsworth, Christopher (1880). St. Hippolytus and the Church of Rome in the Early Part of the Third Century (2nd ed.). London: Rivingtons.

External links

Apostolic Tradition

The Apostolic Tradition (or Egyptian Church Order) is an early Christian treatise which belongs to genre of the Church Orders. It has been described as of "incomparable importance as a source of information about church life and liturgy in the third century".Rediscovered in the 19th century, it was given the name of Egyptian Church Order. In the first half of 20th century this text was commonly identified with the lost Apostolic Tradition presumed by Hippolytus of Rome. Due to this attribution, and the apparent early date of the text, this manual played a crucial role in the liturgical reforms of main mainstream Christian bodies. The attribution of this text to Hippolytus has since become a subject of continued debate in recent scholarship.If the Apostolic Tradition is the work of Hippolytus of Rome, it could be dated before 235 CE (when Hippolytus is believed to have suffered martyrdom) and its origin would be Rome; this date has been defended in recent scholarship by Brent and Stewart. Against this, other scholars (see Bradshaw) believe that the key liturgical sections incorporate material of separate sources, some Roman and some not, ranging from the middle second to the fourth century, being gathered and compiled on about 375-400 CE, probably in Egypt or even Syria. Against this, other scholars have suggested that the Apostolic Tradition portrays a liturgy that was never celebrated.

Book of Elchasai

The Book of Elchasai or the Book of Elxai is a lost prophetic book, written during the reign of Trajan, that contained laws and apocalyptic prophecies pertaining to Jewish Christian and Gnostic doctrines. It is known only from fragments quoted in the early Christian writings of Hippolytus of Rome, Eusebius, Epiphanius of Salamis, and Origen. The book was used by a number of Transjordanian sects, including Ebionites, Essenes, Nazarenes, and especially by Elcesaites whom based their origins from.

Caius (presbyter)

Caius, Presbyter of Rome (also known as Gaius) was a Christian author who lived and wrote towards the beginning of the 3rd century. Only fragments of his works are known, which are given in the collection entitled The Ante-Nicene Fathers. However, the Muratorian fragment, an early attempt to establish the canon of the New Testament, is often attributed to Caius and is included in that collection.For the existing fragments from Caius' "Dialogue or Disputation Against Proclus," we are indebted to Eusebius, who included them in his Ecclesiastical History. In one of these fragments, Caius tells Proclus,

"And I can show the trophies of the apostles. For if you choose to go to the Vatican or to the Ostian Road, you will find the trophies of those who founded this church." This is described by the Catholic Encyclopedia as "a very valuable evidence of the death of Sts. Peter and Paul at Rome, and the public veneration of their remains at Rome about the year 200."There is also another series of fragments Eusebius gives from a work called "Against the Heresy of Artemon," although the Ante-Nicene Fathers note says regarding the authorship only that it is "an anonymous work ascribed by some to Caius."Caius was also one of the authors to whom the "Discourse to the Greeks concerning Hades" was ascribed at one time. (It was also attributed, much more famously, to Josephus and still appears in editions of the William Whiston translation of his collected works, but is now known to be excerpted from a work by Hippolytus of Rome.)

Canons of Hippolytus

The Canons of Hippolytus is a Christian text composed of 38 decrees ("canons") of the genre of the Church Orders. The work has been dated to between 336 and 340 A.D., though a slightly later date is sometimes proposed.

Egypt is regarded as the place of origin. The author is unknown, though the work presents its author as "Hippolytus, the high bishop of Rome, according to the instructions of the Apostles".

It contains instructions in regard to the choice and ordination of Christian ministers; regulations as to widows and virgins; conditions required of pagan converts; preparation for and administration of baptism, rules for the celebration of the Eucharist, for fasting, daily prayers, charity suppers, memorial meals, first-fruits, etc.

Catherine Rowett

Catherine Joanna Rowett (previously publishing as Catherine Osborne from 1979 to 2011) is a British politician and academic. She is Professor of Philosophy at the University of East Anglia. She is known in particular for her work on Greek Philosophy, especially the Pre-Socratic philosophers. She has been the Green Party Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the East of England since 2019.

Christianity in the 3rd century

Christianity in the 3rd century was largely the time of the Ante-Nicene Fathers who wrote after the Apostolic Fathers of the 1st and 2nd centuries but before the First Council of Nicaea in 325 (ante-nicene meaning before Nicaea).

In the Edict of Milan (313 AD) the Roman Emperors Constantine the Great and Licinius legalised the Christian religion.

Chronography of 354

The Chronography of 354, also known as the Calendar of 354, was a 4th-century illuminated manuscript, which was produced in 354 AD for a wealthy Roman Christian named Valentinus by the calligrapher and illuminator Furius Dionysius Filocalus. It is the earliest dated codex to have full page illustrations. None of the original has survived. The term Calendar of Filocalus is sometimes used to describe the whole collection, and sometimes just the sixth part, which is the Calendar itself. Other versions of the names ("Philocalus", "Codex-Calendar of 354") are occasionally used. The text and illustrations are available online. Amongst other historically significant information, the work contains the earliest reference to the celebration of Christmas as an annual holiday or feast, on December 25, although unique historical dates had been mentioned much earlier, notably December 25, 3 or 4 BC by Hippolytus of Rome during 202–211.

Discourse to the Greeks concerning Hades

Discourse to the Greeks concerning Hades is a short treatise believed to be the work of Hippolytus of Rome.

It is also known as Josephus's Discourse to the Greeks concerning Hades because it was erroneously attributed to the Jewish historian since at least the 9th century, although it is now believed to be (at least in its original form) the work of Hippolytus. It was first published in the translation of Josephus by William Whiston. As Whiston's translation is in the public domain, it appears in many present-day English editions of Josephus' work without any noting of its erroneous attribution.


Himmelsbrief also known as a "heaven's letter" (Bilardi, 2009), OR a "heavenly letter" (Kerr, 2002), is a name for religious documents said to have been written by God or a divine agent. Their purpose is to protect the bearer or place from all evil and danger; however, there is a price for their protection. Bearers will only be protected so long as they abide by the moral covenants detailed in the letter. (Bilardi, 2009)

They are often said to have miraculously "fallen from sky", claim protection for owners of a copy (encouraging memetic replication) and punishment for disbelievers.

Some authors reserve the name for Christian apocryphal documents, but similar pieces are found in Islam, Hinduism and pre-Christian religions.

Hippolytus of Rome mentions one in Refutation of All Heresies (third century), and the earlier full text is a Latin one dated in the 6th century.

While preaching, Jacob, the organizer of the Crusade of the Shepherds, held one which was allegedly given by the Virgin Mary.

Illiterate popes

Several popes are regarded by historians as illiterate, including:

Pope Zephyrinus (199–217); St. Hippolytus of Rome wrote "Pope Zephyrinus was illiterate" (Hippol. p. 284, ed. Miller).

Pope Adrian IV (1154–1159); George Washington Dean writes: "Adrian IV., the only English Pope, had been an illiterate servant in a monastery at Avignon."

Pope Celestine V (1294); Sir Maxwell Herbert writes of Celestine V: "On the commemoration day of S. Paul, Celestinus the Fifth was created Pope, who, albeit illiterate, was the priest and confessor of his predecessor."

Pope Innocent VI (1352–1362); It was written of Innocent VI that "the new pope was so illiterate that he looked upon Petrarch as a magician, and this disfavor is supposed to have caused the poet's return to Italy.

Lake of fire

A lake of fire appears, in both ancient Egyptian and Christian religion, as a place of after-death destruction of the wicked. The phrase is used in four verses of the Book of Revelation. Such a lake also appears in Plato's Gorgias, explicitly identified with Tartarus, where the souls of the wicked are tormented until it is time for them to be reborn, and where some souls are left.

The image was also used by the Early Christian Hippolytus of Rome in about the year 230 and has continued to be used by modern Christians. Related is Jewish Gehenna which, among other things, is a valley near Jerusalem where trash was burned.

Lud, son of Shem

Lud (Hebrew: לוּדֿ‎) was a son of Shem and grandson of Noah, according to Genesis 10 (the "Table of Nations").

The descendants of Lud are usually, following Josephus, connected with various Anatolian peoples, particularly Lydia (Assyrian Luddu) and their predecessors, the Luwians; cf. Herodotus' assertion (Histories i. 7) that the Lydians were first so named after their king, Lydus (Λυδός). However, the chronicle of Hippolytus of Rome (c. 234 AD) identifies Lud's descendants with the Lazones or Alazonii (names usually taken as variants of the "Halizones" said by Strabo to have once lived along the Halys) while it derives the Lydians from the aforementioned Ludim, son of Mizraim.

The Book of Jubilees, in describing how the world was divided between Noah's sons and grandsons, says that Lud received "the mountains of Asshur and all appertaining to them till it reaches the Great Sea, and till it reaches the east of Asshur his brother" (Charles translation). The Ethiopian version reads, more clearly "... until it reaches, toward the east, toward his brother Asshur's portion." Jubilees also says that Japheth's son Javan received islands in front of Lud's portion, and that Tubal received three large peninsulae, beginning with the first peninsula nearest Lud's portion. In all these cases, "Lud's portion" seems to refer to the entire Anatolian peninsula, west of Mesopotamia.

Some scholars have associated the Biblical Lud with the Lubdu of Assyrian sources, who inhabited certain parts of western Media and Atropatene. It has been conjectured by others that Lud's descendants spread to areas of the far-east beyond Elam, or that they were identified with the Lullubi.

10th century Muslim historian Ali ibn al-Husayn al-Masudi writes in his widely acclaimed historical book The Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems that Keyumars was the son of Lud, son of Shem.

The Muslim historian Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari (c. 915) recounts a tradition that the wife of Lud was named Shakbah, daughter of Japheth, and that she bore him "Faris, Jurjan, and the races of Persia." He further asserts that Lud was the progenitor of not only the Persians, but also the Amalekites and Canaanites, and all the peoples of the East, Oman, Hejaz, Syria, Egypt, and Bahrain.

Mark the cousin of Barnabas

Mark the cousin of Barnabas is a character mentioned in the New Testament, usually identified with John Mark (and thus with Mark the Evangelist). The opinion that this Mark is a different Mark is found in the writings of Hippolytus of Rome who thought them to be separate people.

Refutation of All Heresies

The Refutation of All Heresies (Greek: Φιλοσοφούμενα ή κατὰ πασῶν αἱρέσεων ἔλεγχος, Latin: Refutatio Omnium Haeresium), also called the Elenchus or Philosophumena, is a compendious Christian polemical work of the early third century, now generally attributed to Hippolytus of Rome. It catalogues both pagan beliefs and 33 gnostic Christian systems deemed heretical, making it a major source of information on contemporary opponents of Catholic orthodoxy.The first book, a synopsis of Greek philosophy, circulated separately in several manuscripts and was known as the Philosophoumena (Greek: Φιλοσοφούμενα "philosophical teachings"), a title which some extend to the whole work. Books IV-X were recovered in 1842 in a manuscript at Mount Athos, while books II and III remain lost. The work was long attributed to the early Christian theologian Origen.


The Sabians (; Arabic: الصابئة‎ al-Ṣābiʼah or الصابئون‎ al-Ṣābiʼūn) of Middle Eastern tradition were a religious group mentioned three times in the Quran as a People of the Book, along with the Jews and the Christians. In the hadith, they were described simply as converts to Islam. Interest in the identity and history of the group increased over time. Discussions and investigations of the Sabians began to appear in later Islamic literature. The Sabians were identified by early writers with the ancient Jewish Christian group the Elcesaites, and with gnostic groups such as the Hermeticists and the Mandaeans. Today, the Mandaeans are still widely identified as Sabians.

Symphorian and Timotheus

Symphorian is also the name of one of the Four Crowned Martyrs. For various places in France and Belgium, see Saint-Symphorien.Symphorian (Symphorianus, Symphorien), Timotheus (Timothy), and Hippolytus of Rome are three Christian martyrs who though they were unrelated and were killed in different places and at different times, shared a common feast day in the General Roman Calendar from at least the 1568 Tridentine Calendar to the Mysterii Paschalis.

Tertius of Iconium

According to the New Testament book of Romans, Tertius of Iconium (also Tertios) acted as an amanuensis for Paul the Apostle, writing down his Epistle. He is numbered among the Seventy Disciples in a list pseudonymously attributed Hippolytus of Rome, which is found in the margin of several ancient manuscripts.According to tradition, Tertius was Bishop in Iconium after the Apostle Sosipater and died a martyr. The Catholic Church marks St. Tertius days on October 30 and November 10.

Trinitarianism in the Church Fathers

Whether the earliest Church Fathers believed in the Trinity is a subject for debate. Some of the evidence used to support an early belief in the Trinity are triadic statements (referring to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) from the New Testament and the Church Fathers. The view that the Son was 'of the essence of the Father, God of God...very God of very God' was formally ratified at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. The Holy Spirit was included at the First Council of Constantinople (381 AD), where the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one substance (ousia) and three co-equal persons (hypostaseis) was formally ratified.

Middle Ages and earlier
Modern era

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