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|Papacy began||c. 138|
|Papacy ended||c. 142|
Rome, Roman Empire
|Feast day||11 January|
Pope Hyginus (died c. 142) was the Bishop of Rome from c. 138 to c. 142. Tradition holds that during his papacy he determined the various prerogatives of the clergy and defined the grades of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. However, modern scholars tend to doubt this claim and view the governance of the church of Rome during this period as still more or less collective.
According to the Liber Pontificalis, Hyginus was a Greek born in Athens. The source further states that he previously was a philosopher, probably founded on the similarity of his name with that of two Latin authors.
Irenaeus says that the Gnostic Valentinus came to Rome in Hyginus's time, remaining there until Anicetus became pontiff (Against Heresies, III, iii). Cerdo, another Gnostic and predecessor of Marcion, also lived at Rome in the reign of Hyginus; by confessing his errors and recanting, he succeeded in obtaining readmission into the bosom of the Church, but eventually he fell back into the heresies and was expelled from the Church. How many of these events took place during the time of Hyginus is not known.
The Liber Pontificalis also relates that this pope organized the hierarchy and established the order of ecclesiastical precedence (Hic clerum composuit et distribuit gradus). This general observation recurs also in the biography of Pope Hormisdas; it has no historical value, and according to Duchesne, the writer probably referred to the lower orders of the clergy.
Three letters attributed to him have survived.
- The chronology of these Popes cannot be determined with any degree of exactitude by the help of the extant sources. (Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope St. Hyginus) According to Eusebius (Church History, IV, xv.) Hyginus succeeded Telesphorus during the first year of the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius, i.e. in 138 or 139. Eusebius (Church History, IV, xvi) states that Hyginus's pontificate lasted four years.
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- Catholic Encyclopedia, "Pope St. Hyginus" (1913).
- Opera Omnia
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Hyginus (pope)". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Fontes Latinae de papis usque ad annum 530 (Papa Felix IV)
- Liber pontificalis
|Catholic Church titles|
|Bishop of Rome