Sacred Texts  Christianity  Early Church Fathers  Index  Previous  Next 

Chapter X.—The Bishops of Rome and of Alexandria during the Reign of Antoninus.

Adrian having died after a reign of twenty-one years, 1059 was succeeded in the government of the Romans by Antoninus, called the Pious. In the first year of his reign Telesphorus 1060 died in the eleventh year of his episcopate, and Hyginus became bishop of Rome. 1061 Irenæus records that Telesphorus’ death was made glorious by martyrdom, 1062 and in the same connection he states that in the time of the above-mentioned Roman bishop Hyginus, Valentinus, the founder of a sect of his own, and Cerdon, the author of Marcion’s error, were both well known at Rome. 1063 He writes as follows: 1064



Hadrian reigned from Aug. 8, 117, to July 10, 138 a.d.


On Telesphorus, see above, chap. 5, note 13. The date given here by Eusebius (138–139 a.d.) is probably (as remarked there) at least a year too late.


We know very little about Hyginus. His dates can be fixed with tolerable certainty as 137–141, the duration of his episcopate being four years, as Eusebius states in the next chapter. See Lipsius’ Chron. d. röm. Bischöfe, p. 169 and 263. The Roman martyrologies make him a martyr, but this means nothing, as the early bishops of Rome almost without exception are called martyrs by these documents. The forged decretals ascribe to him the introduction of a number of ecclesiastical rites.


In his Adv. Hær. III. 3. 3. The testimony of Irenæus rests upon Roman tradition at this point, and is undoubtedly reliable. Telesphorus is the first Roman bishop whom we know to have suffered martyrdom, although the Roman Catholic Church celebrates as martyrs all the so-called popes down to the fourth century.


On Valentinus, Cerdon, and Marcion, see the next chapter.


Irenæus, Adv. Hær. III. 4. 3.

Next: Chapter XI