Hippolytus of Rome (170 – 235 AD) was the most important 3rd-century theologian in the Christian Church in Rome, where he was probably born. 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. However, this assertion is doubtful. 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. He opposed the Roman bishops who softened the penitential system to accommodate the large number of new pagan converts. However, he was very probably reconciled to the Church when he died as a martyr.
Starting in the 4th century AD, 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. Pius IV identifies him as “Saint Hippolytus, Bishop of Pontus” who was martyred in the reign of Alexander Severus through his inscription on a statue found at the Church of St. Lawrence in Rome and kept at the Vatican as photographed and published in Brunsen.
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