Today is the feast day of Saint Hegesippus. Ora pro nobis.
We know nothing of Saint Hegesippus early life. Saint Hegesippus was by culture a Jew who joined the Church of Jerusalem, when the disasters attaining his unhappy land opened his eyes to see their cause. His writings were known to Saint Jerome and Eusebius and were praised by them. (1)
He was clearly an orthodox Catholic, though Eusebius says he showed that he was a convert from Judaism, for he quoted from the Hebrew, he was acquainted with the Gospel according to the Hebrews and with a Syriac Gospel, and he also cited unwritten traditions of the Jews. He seems to have belonged to some part of the East, possibly Palestine. He went on a journey to Corinth and Rome, in the course of which he met many bishops, and he heard from all the same doctrine. He says: “And the Church of the Corinthians remained in the true word until Primus was bishop in Corinth; I made their acquaintance in my journey to Rome, and remained with the Corinthians many days, in which we were refreshed with the true word. And when I was in Rome, I made a succession up to Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. And in each succession and in each city all is according to the ordinances of the law and the Prophets and the Lord” (Euseb., IV, 22). (2)
Eusebius quotes from Hegesippus a long and apparently legendary account of the death of St. James, “the brother of the Lord”, also the story of the election of his successor Symeon, and the summoning of the descendants of St. Jude to Rome by Domitian. A list of heresies against which Hegesippus wrote is also cited. We learn from a note in the Bodleian MS. Barocc. 142 (De Boor in “Texte und Unters.”, V, ii, 169) that the names of the two grandsons of St. Jude were given by Hegesippus as Zoker and James. Dr. Lawlor has shown (Hermathena, XI, 26, 1900, p. 10) that all these passages cited by Eusebius were connected in the original, and were in the fifth book of Hegesippus.
He has also made it probable (Journal of Theol. Studies, April, 1907, VIII, 436) that Eusebius got from Hegesippus the statement that St. John was exiled to Patmos by Domitian. Hegesippus mentioned the letter of Clement to the Corinthians, apparently in connection with the persecution of Domitian. It is very likely that the dating of heretics according to papal reigns in Irenaeus and Epiphanius — e.g., that Cerdon and Valentius came to Rome under Anicetus, etc. — was derived from Hegesippus, and the same may be true of the assertion that Hermas was the brother of Pope Pius (so the Liberian Catalogue, the poem against Marcion, and the Muratorian fragment). The date of Hegesippus is fixed by the statement that the death and apothesis of Antinous were in his own time (130), that he came to Rome under Anicetus (154-7 to 165-8) and wrote in the time of Eleutherus (174-6 to 189-91). Zahn has shown that the work of Hegesippus was still extant in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in three Eastern libraries. (2)
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff