Martyr, presbyter and antipope; date of birth unknown; d. about 236.
Until the publication in 1851 of the recently discovered "Philosophumena", it was impossible to obtain anydefinite authentic facts concerning Hippolytus of Rome and his life from the conflicting statements about him, as follows:
* St. Jerome likewise describes him as the bishop of an unknown see, gives a longer list of his writings, and says of one of his homilies that he delivered it in the presence of Origen, to whom he made direct reference (De viris illustribus, cap. 1xi).
* The Chronography of 354, in the list of popes, mentions Bishop Pontianus and the presbyter Hippolytus as being banished to the island of Sardinia in the year 235; the Roman Calendar in the same collection records under 13 August the feast of Hippolytus on the Via Tiburtina and Pontianus in the catacomb of Callistus (ed. Mommsen in "Mon. Germ. Hist.: auctores antiquissimi", IX, 72, 74).
* According to the inscription over the grave of Hippolytus composed by Pope Damasus, he was a follower of the Novatian schism while a presbyter, but before his death exhorted his followers to become reconciled with the Catholic Church (Ihm, "Damasi epigrammata", Leipzig, 1895, 42, n.37).
* Prudentius wrote a hymn on the martyr Hippolytus ("Peristephanon", hymn XI, in P.L., LX, 530 sqq.), in which he places the scene of the martyrdom at Ostia or Porto, and describes Hippolytus as being torn to pieces by wild horses, evidently a reminiscence of the ancient Hippolytus, son of Theseus.
* Later Greek authors (e.g. Georgius Syncellus., ed. Bonn, 1829, 674 sqq.; Nicephorus Callistus, "Hist. eccl.", IV, xxxi) do not give much more information than Eusebius and Jerome; some of them call him Bishop of Rome, others Bishop of Porto. According to Photius (Bibliotheca, codex 121), he was a disciple of St. Irenæus. Oriental writers, as well as Pope Gelasius, place the See of Hippolytus at Bostra, the chief city of the Arabs.
* Several later legends of martyrs speak of Hippolytus in various connections. That of St. Laurence refers to him as the officer appointed to guard the blessed deacon, who was converted, together with his entire household, and killed by wild horses (Acta SS., August, III, 13-14; Surius, "De probatis Sanctorum historiis", IV, Cologne, 1573, 581 sqq.). A legend of Porto identifies him with the martyr Nonnus and gives an account of his martyrdom with others of the same city (Acta SS., August, IV, 506; P.G., X, 545-48).
* A monument of importance is the large fragment of a marble statue of the saint discovered in 1551 which underwent restoration (the upper part of the body and the head being new), and is now preserved in the Lateran museum; the paschal cycle computed by Hippolytus and a list of his writings are engraved on the sides of the chair on which the figure of Hippolytus is seated; the monument dates from the third century (Kraus, "Realencyklopädie der christlichen Altertumer", 661 sqq.).
* The topographies of the graves of the Roman martyrs place the grave of Hippolytus in the cemetery on the Via Tiburtina named after him, mention the basilica erected there, and give some legendary details concerning him. (De Rossi, "Roma sotterranea", I, 178-79); the burial vault of the sainted confessor was unearthed by De Rossi (Bullettino di archeologia cristiana, 1882, 9-76).