St. Pontian was made Pope on July 21, 230 after the death of Pope Urban I. Then in 235 a man named Maximinus became the emperor of Rome.
Almost immediately, he began to punish the Christians and make them suffer. One of the common punishments of bishops and priests was to send them into exile to the dangerous and unhealthy mine fields of Sardinia, in Italy.
Emperor Maximinus immediately sent Pope Pontian to suffer in Sardinia.
The other saint on today’s calendar is St. Hippolytus. He was a priest and a scholar in the Church of Rome. He wrote many excellent books on theology and was a great teacher.
Hippolytus had become angry with Pope St. Zephyrinus, who had been martyred in the year 217. Hippolytus felt that the pope had not been quick enough to stop people who were going about with false teachings.
When Pope Zephyrinus’ died St. Callistus I became pope and this made Hippolytus even angrier.
Hippolytus himself had many followers, who wanted him to become pope. So he decided to form his own church and became a false pope.
When Emperor Maximinus found a second Pope, he arrested Hippolytus and also sent him away to Sardinia. There in that sad environment, while the enemies of Christianity laughed, a miracle of healing took place.
Pope Pontian and Hippolytus met in exile. Hippolytus was touched when he saw how humble the Pope was. He asked God for forgiveness and asked Pontian to let him return to the Catholic Church.
Pope Pontian gladly welcomed him back and Hippolytus found that the anger had lifted from his heart. Pope Pontian understood the priest and loved him. He realized their need to help and encourage each other in their love for Jesus.
Both became martyrs who died for Jesus and they have become strong witnesses of forgiveness and Christian hope.
Reflection: Christian forgiveness must be given to every one especially those who sinned greatly against us. This “stubborness of doing good” like giving others a chance to reform is a great sign of an authentic Christian life. A soul knows how to forgive is sure of his salvation because love excuses multitude of sin and by forgiving others is one of a sign of true love.
Prayer: Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit you enabled Saint Pontian and Saint Hippolytus to lay down their lives for Your word in witness to Jesus. Give us the grace to believe in You and the courage to profess our Faith. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit one God for ever and ever. Amen.