According to the Church historian Eusebius, and also St. Iraneus, St. Hyginus succeeded Pope Telesphorus after his martyrdom around the year 138. He reigned for approximately four years. This was during a time of great persecution, though the emperor himself claimed never to have consented to all the torturing and murdering of Christians, according to Eusebius and St. Justin.
However, a man by the name of Cerdo went to Rome from Syria in the year 140 and began to teach false principles which Marcion later adopted. He claimed, for example, that there were two Gods, one being the severe one of the Old Testament and the other being Christ, who was sent to redeem man from the tyranny of the first God. He also claimed that Christ was not born of the Virgin Mary, and was a man only in appearance. Pope Hyginus saw the evil of this man’s teachings and excommunicated him. But Cerdo, later claiming to have repented of his former ways, was received back into the Church. It wasn’t long, though, before he once again started touting his false teachings in secret and when discovered, was once again excommunicated.
Another heretic, a Platonic philosopher named Valentine, revived the errors of Simon Magus and added many other absurd falsehoods. Hyginus tried to be patient with him and did not excommunicate him, but Pope Pius, his successor, did. Pope St. Hyginus died in the year 142. Although there is no record of his actual martyrdom, he is listed in the Roman Martyrology, probably because of all the various persecutions that he suffered. At his death, Hyginus was buried on Vatican Hill, near the tomb of St. Peter.
Father, we thank you for all the holy popes since St. Peter that you have placed in authority over us. We are especially thankful for those like Pope Saint Hyginus, who were persistent and bold in watching over their flock by watching out for the wolves in sheep’s clothing. We pray for our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, that your angels will watch over him and keep him safe and that he will have a long and healthy life on earth. Amen.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Paulinus (804), Bishop, Patriarch of Aquileia
St. Theodosius (529), Abbot