Saint Hippolytus (Sant’Ippolito) – neophyte and a patron of prison guards
According to the legend, right after the torture of Lawrence, Hippolytus was arrested and sentenced to death along with his whole family and a nurse – his caretaker from childhood, Concordia (later blessed). He died by having his body ripped apart by four horses tied to his limbs. This method of death is connected with the saint’s Greek name, which means “he who frees (lets loose) horses.” It was not in vain that the saint became a patron of horses and prison guards.
The figure of Hippolytus the guard, survived in the memories of the faithful and Church traditions much stronger than that of the aforementioned antipope Hippolytus. Interestingly enough, the cult of the saint and images connected with it, especially those depicting his martyr death, was especially popular in countries of Northern Europe. This was contributed to by numerous relics (in the shape of bits of bones), brought over from Rome, where they were taken out of Hippolytus’s grave (the antipope) at via Tiburtina. Even today, we can still find information regarding this antipope, illustrated by the medieval images depicting his body being ripped apart by horses, despite the fact that beyond any doubts he died in a stone quarry on Sardinia, while his remains were buried in the catacombs at the aforementioned via Tiburtina.
In the very center of historical Rome, we will not find any churches devoted to him, apart from the already mentioned Church of San Lorenzo in Fonte (more appropriately Santi Lorenzo e Ippolito), where in the main altar there is a seventeenth-century painting depicting the baptism of Hippolytus, at the hands of St. Lawrence.
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