Priest and Founder (1565-1619)
+ Hippolytus was born in Florence. The son of a poor silk weaver, he took it up on himself to teach catechism to the other children. Although he wanted to become a Capuchin Franciscan, he was unable to enter because of poor health.
+ In 1577, he attracted the attention of the archbishop of Florence—the future Pope Leo XI—who later entrusted Hippolytus with a church where he could continue his ministry. At this time, he also worked as a weaver to support himself.
+ Hippolytus established an educational institution in 1604 that made a profound impact on the education system in Florence and he was soon asked to take his model to other regions. Because of his progressive views, he was held in suspicion by some and was even accused of sharing Martin Luther’s views. Despite the opposition, he came to be known as the “Apostle of Florence.”
+ In 1602, he was able to establish a chapel, which he dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi. His collaborators came to be known as the Congregation of Christian Doctrine and, before his death, he entrusted the movement to the care of the Blessed Virgin.
+ Blessed Hippolytus died on March 20, 1619, and was beatified in 1825.
Blessed Hippolytus was beatified in the same ceremony as Blessed Angelo of Acri and Blessed Julian of St. Augustine. Following the beatification ceremony, Pope Gregory XVI presented the paintings of these beati to Bishop Joseph of Flaget of the diocese of Bardstown (now the Archdiocese of Louisville). These paintings currently hang in the Louisville’s Cathedral of the Assumption.
“Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”—Mark 10:14
O God, who raised up blessed Hippolytus in your Church to show others the way of salvation, grant us, by his (her) example, so to follow Christ the master, that we may come with our neighbor into your presence. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For Educators)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.