Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Hippolytus, Martyr

detail of the central panel of the triptych of Saint Hippolyte by Dieric Bouts and Hugo van der Goes, c.1470, featuring his martyrdom; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Saint Hippolytus, an officer of the body-guard of the emperor Decius, had been born in the darkness of idolatry, but he had become a Christian, with all his household, in consequence of witnessing the many miracles which Saint Lawrence performed while in the prison under his charge. He had also been present when the saint, lying on the red-hot gridiron, endured the most terrible tortures. At the sight of the heroism of Saint Lawrence, he was filled with the desire to denounce himself a Christian, but he was prevented by Saint Lawrence. But when this martyr had gloriously ended his combat, Hippolytus, with the assistance of a priest, named Justinus, buried the sacred remains with great devotion and veneration. The emperor on being informed of it, had Hippolytus seized and brought before him. He asked him if it was true that he had become a Christian? Hippolytus answered firmly: “Yes, I am a Christian, and moreover resolved to die such.” The emperor, who had always highly esteemed him, endeavored, first by promises and then by menaces, to induce him to forsake Christ. As, however, all was unavailing, he caused him to be tortured. He was accordingly stretched on the ground, whipped with scourges, and beaten with clubs so fearfully, that it was believed he could not survive. But God, by a visible miracle, prolonged his life. Keeping his eyes fixed upon Heaven, he frequently repeated: “I am a Christian, I suffer for Christ’s sake.” After having been tormented for a long time, he was cast into prison, and the prefect received the order to behead him. Before executing this order, however, he went to the house of Hippolytus to secure his property. Finding the entire household had become Christians, he took them beyond the gates of the city and had them beheaded. Concordia, an old and holy matron, who had been Hippolytus’ nurse, was scourged until she expired, because she encouraged the others to remain firm in their faith. At last, Hippolytus was taken out of prison and fastened to the tails of two horses, and dragged by them until he was torn to pieces, and his heroic soul was in the presence of Him whom he had so fearlessly confessed.

Practical Considerations

Saint Hippolytus turned his eyes to Heaven during his martyrdom. Many holy martyrs, in their sufferings, and many saints, in their sickness and adversity, did the same. They desired to show by it, that they bore their pains for the love of God. They also recalled to mind the recompense which they hoped to receive for their sufferings, and were encouraged by this remembrance. Do you the same in all your sorrows, cares and afflictions, and show, by it, that you will bear all for the love of God. Call on the Almighty for strength and help. Think of the great reward. By this means, you will be strengthened to endure everything with patience and even with joy. No labor, no pain, no care will be too hard for you to bear, nor last longer than you can endure, if you raise your eyes to Heaven, especially if you consider that your labor, your cares, your pains are very short in comparison to the eternal rest. “Raise your eyes upward during your work,” says Saint Ephrem, “and you will consider nothing hard while contemplating the Heavenly joys.” “The present suffering,” says Saint Thomas of Villanova, is only a moment in comparison with heavenly joys. That which hurts us passes quickly, but that which we receive as reward remains eternally.”

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saint Hippolytus, Martyr”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 1 April 2018. Web. 14 December 2018. <>