A man named Maximinus became the emperor of Rome in 235. Almost immediately, he began a persecution of the Christians. One of the frequent punishments of bishops and priests was to be sent into exile to the dangerous and unhealthy mine fields in Sardinia, Italy. It was this very persecution that joined the two martyrs.
St. Pontian became pope after the death of Urban I in the year 230. When Maximinus became emperor, Pontian served the Church with his sufferings in the mines of 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 works of theology and was a great teacher. Hippolytus had become frustrated 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 teaching errors. St. Zephyrinus' successor had been St. Callistus I. Hippolytus had not been pleased with the choice of the new pope. Hippolytus himself had a large following, and he gave in to their suggestion that he be appointed pope. So he agreed. He broke ties with the Church and became a false pope. When the persecution began, he was arrested and sent 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. The priest was touched by the humility of the pope. He asked to return to the Church and felt the anger 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 and remain for all time witnesses of forgiveness and Christian hope.
- from Holy Spirit Interactive
O Almighty God, who didst give to thy servants St. Pontian and St. Hippolytus boldness to confess the Name of our Saviour Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for the sake of the same our Lord Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.