St Hyginus

(c. 138—142)

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Peter (c. 64 ad)


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(c. 138–c. 142)

In the earliest succession lists of bishops of Rome he was eighth in the line inaugurated by the Apostles Peter and Paul. The later convention which reckoned St Peter the first pope counted him the ninth. Estimates vary of the length of his reign, the 4th-century Liberian Catalogue giving it as twelve years, but Eusebius (c. 260–c. 340) and LP more plausibly as four. According to LP he was a Greek from Athens who had previously been a philosopher; the career of his contemporary Justin Martyr (c. 100–c. 165), who came to Rome from the east and was a philosopher and Christian apologist, suggests that the latter detail should not be dismissed lightly. On the other hand, LP's further claims that he reorganized his clergy on a hierarchical basis and was buried near St Peter are worthless. More significant, as indicative of the intellectual climate of the Roman church when he was bishop, is the report of Irenaeus (c.180) that during his reign the Gnostic teachers Valentinus and Cerdo came to Rome from Egypt and Syria respectively. Although he came to be venerated as a martyr, there is no evidence that he was one. While the monarchical episcopate was possibly beginning to emerge at Rome at this time, it is nevertheless difficult to picture his role in the government of the community. Feast 11 Jan.

Further Reading

Irenaeus, Adv. haer. 3. 3. 3, 3. 4. 2Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 4. 10, 4. 11. 1 f., 4. 11. 6, 5. 6. 4LP i. 131 (Davis 1: 5, 98, 107)Caspar i. 8, 13, 21, 48DCB iii. 184 (J. Barmby)DTC vii. 356 f. (É. Amann)EThC 59 (C. Breuer-Winkler)BSS vii. 652 (A. Amore)NCE vii. 237 (E. G. Weltin)Lampe

Subjects: Christianity.

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