Saint of the Day – 11 January – Saint Pope Hyginus (Died 142) Papal Ascension c 138. Born in Athens, Greece and died in 142 in Rome, Italy. Also known as – Hygin, Igino.
Tradition holds that during his Papacy he determined the various prerogatives of the clergy and defined the grades of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Hyginus also instituted Godparents at Baptism to assist the baptised during their Christian life. In addition, he decreed, that all Churches be Consecrated.
Not much is recorded in historical documents about Hyginus’ biographical details, other than, that he was born in Greece. The City of Rome, as the centre of the Empire, drew many different people from the corners of the Empire and was subsequently a very diverse place. Many of these earliest Popes reflected this diversity—a sharp distinction from the medieval Popes who were nearly uniformly of Italian descent.
St Irenaeus says, that the gnostic Valentinus came to Rome in Hyginus’ time, remaining there until St Anicetus became Pontiff
Cerdo, another Gnostic and predecessor of Marcion of Sinope, also lived at Rome in the reign of Hyginus but, by confessing his errors and recanting, he succeeded in obtaining re-admission into the Church. However, he eventually degenerated back into heresy and was expelled from the Church. The Liber Pontificalis also relates, that Pope Hyginus organised the hierarchy and established the order of ecclesiastical precedence.
The ancient sources contain no information as to his having died a martyr. At his death he was buried on the Vatican Hill, near Saint Peter’s Tomb.