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Pope Hyginus

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For other people named Hyginus, see Hyginus (disambiguation).
Saint Hyginus
Papacy began 136/138
Papacy ended 140/142
Predecessor Telesphorus
Successor Pius I
Personal details
Birth name Hyginus
Born ???
Athens, Greece
Died 140/142
Rome, Roman Empire
Papal styles of
Pope Hyginus
Emblem of the Papacy SE.svg
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father
Posthumous style Saint

Pope Saint Hyginus was bishop of Rome from about 136 or 138 to about 140 or 142.[1] 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.

The ancient sources contain no information as to his having died a martyr. At his death he was buried on the Vatican Hill, near the tomb of St. Peter. His feast is celebrated on 11 January.

Three letters attributed to him have survived.


  1. 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.

External links


Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Bishop of Rome

Succeeded by
Pius I