Saint Hippolytus, an ecclesiastical writer of the 3d century. Although his writings had been always numbered among those of the ante-Nicene fathers, his personal history had been surrounded with uncertainty until the middle of the present century. Two events, occurring at a distance of 300 years from each other, have served to clear away doubts and contradictions regarding his identity. In 1551, near the basilica of San Lorenzo in Rome, there was discovered an antique statue (now in the Vatican museum) belonging to the 6th century, which represented a bishop seated. The statue bears the inscription Hippolytus Episcopus Portuensis, the very title given to him by Pru-dentius, who lived in the 5th century. On the back of the chair are the paschal canon or cycle introduced by Hippolytus in the Roman church, and a list of his works, among which are mentioned treatises " against heresies." In 1842 M. Mynoide Minas, commissioned by the French government, had brought back from the monastery of Mount Athos a mutilated Greek manuscript on cotton paper containing a "Refutation of all Heresies"
which was published at Oxford in 1851, as a work of Origen. This authorship was immediately contested by Dr. Jacobi in Berlin and Dr. Duncker in Gottin-gen, who both claimed the work as belonging to Hippolytus. Finally this claim was successfully sustained by Bunsen in his "Hippolytus and his Times" (4 vols. 8vo, London, 1851), and in a second enlarged edition of the same work, under the title "Christianity and Mankind" (7 vols. 8vo, 1854). The light thrown on Hippolytus and his writings by Bunsen's conclusions, now generally adopted by critics, gives unity to the traditions, and explains the contradictions respecting him. The work "Against Heresies," specified in the inscription on the statue, is claimed as his own by the author of the Mount Athos manuscript, and is attributed by the most eminent authorities to Hippolytus, bishop of Tortus, presbyter of the Roman church, who lived and wrote about 220, as the "Paschal Cycle" and his statue expressly state.
It is thus established that he was a disciple of Irena3us, a member of the Roman presbytery, appointed (most likely because of his knowledge of Greek) bishop of the Portus Romanus or Romoe, the new harbor of Rome, established by Trajan on the right bank of the Tiber, over against the more ancient Ostia. He is called "bishop of the Gentiles," because the population of the new city was made up of floating masses of heathen strangers, drawn thither by commerce. In 218 he was actively ministering to them; in 222 he was engaged in a violent opposition to Pope Calixtus I., whose mild treatment of repentant sinners he reprobated; in 235, in all likelihood immediately after the death of Alexander Severus, he was by the order of Maximin banished to Sardinia, together with Pontianus, bishop of Rome; was permitted to return to his see in 23(5; and not long after was put to death, as the tradition quoted by Prudentius states, by being torn to pieces by wild horses. Prudentius also informs us that he visited his tomb in the church of St. Laurentius in Rome, and Bun-sen is of opinion that the statue discovered in 1551 was erected on the removal of his relics.
The doctrine of Hippolytus on the Trinity and the incarnation of the Word is that proclaimed at Nicaea a century later, and his philosophical explanations of dogma show him to belong to the Platonic school. The best editions of his works are that of Fabri-cius (2 vols. fob, Hamburg, 1716-'18), reproduced with important additions by Galland in vol. ii. of his Bibliotheca Patrum (Venice, 1766), and that of Lagarde (Leipsic, 1858).