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January 30 Saints of the Day – Hippolytus of Rome and Mutien-Marie Wiaux

Hippolytus of RomeOn this day in 1826, the world’s first modern suspension bridge, connecting the Isle of Anglesey to the Welsh mainland, was opened, primarily to make it easier to get cattle to Ireland, which is in the other direction. It is mentioned by Lewis Carroll’s White Knight, which seems only fitting.

Hippolytus of Rome (ca. 170 – ca. 236) was a prolific writer against heresies, as suggested by the title of his magnum opus, Refutation of All Heresies. Nine of its ten volumes were lost until 1842, when copies of volumes IV–X were found in a monastery on Mount Athos (behind the sofa). Another of his works was on the Song of Songs, in which he represents Christ as nurturing the Church with his breasts (the Law and the Gospel), which is either shocking or comforting, depending on where you stand on nursing in public. In 1551, his Easter calendar was found chiseled into the base of an ancient statue. (“Give me your equinox, your full moon, your huddled Sabbaths yearning to breathe free,” and so on.) His other writings primarily survive in fragments in Greek and Slavonic, indicating the greater popularity of his works east of the Adriatic than west. This may have to do with his being an antipope.

During a time of rampant heresies (unlike the vast majority of the history of the early Church), he accused Pope Zephyrinus of weakness for not speaking out against modalism, and then Pope Callistus of moral laxity for granting forgiveness to repentant adulterers. (We know nothing about Hippolytus’ parents.) Subsequently our saint allowed himself to be elected “pope” by his followers, whom he called “Successors to the Apostles,” referring to those other guys as “The School of Callistus.” He was exiled to Sardinia by the government, and was martyred by being dragged by wild horses. In a bizarre twist of logic, he became the patron saint of horses, particularly sick ones. Having at some point been reconciled to the real popes, he is celebrated on August 13 in the west.

Mutien-Marie WiauxMutien-Marie Wiaux (1841 – 1917) was a Belgian who, upon finding himself unfit to follow his father into blacksmithing, and being diverted (just in time) from joining the Jesuits by the local priest, was convinced by said priest to check out a Christian Brothers (of brandy fame) school opening in a nearby town. He was soon a novice, and gained a reputation of living according to the rules of the order, which makes us wonder exactly how the other Brothers lived. He was also praised for his “reliable” sense of humor, which I can only admire.

After brief stints elsewhere, he was sent to the school in Mallone (now part of Namur), where he taught young students for 58 years (hopefully not the same ones the whole time). At first he didn’t seem to have much more skill in teaching than in blacksmithing, and the Brothers were on the verge of giving him the heave-ho “for the good name of the school.” But another Brother took him under his wing, and he went from having unruly and ill-behaved students to being the prefect of discipline for the school, guiding the youth with patience and piety. Not terribly proficient with the three R’s, he taught the fourth (aRt), as well as music. On weekends he could be found teaching catechism at the parish church (how well, we do not know). All who knew him praised his gentle way of bringing out the best in others, and his willingness to drop everything to help a student in need, as long as the need wasn’t for math tutoring.

After his death, pilgrims came from far and wide to his grave, where many miracles occurred. Eventually the Brothers moved his relics closer to the road (a paltry journey as saints’ relics go) so the pilgrims would stop trampling on the peonies. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1989.


Bibliography
This Day in History for 30th January (History Orb)
Menai Suspension Bridge (Wikipedia)
St. Hippolytus of Rome (Catholic Encyclopedia)
Hippolytus of Rome (Wikipedia)
Saint Mutien Marie Wiaux (SQPN)
Mutien-Marie Wiaux (Wikipedia)
Saint of the Day, January 30 (St. Patrick Church, D.C.)
St. Hippolytus of Rome (Catholic Encyclopedia)
Congregation of Christian Brothers (Wikipedia)
The History of Christian Brothers (Christian Brothers Brandy)


Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.

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About Your Intrepid Blogger

I live in the Tacoma area. When not writing things some people think are funny, I teach technology to 7th and 8th graders at a local middle school.

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