The Martyr Pontius

Commemorated on August 5

      The Martyr Pontius lived during the III Century, the son of a pagan Roman senator named Marcus and his wife Julia. While with child, Julia had gone with her husband to the pagan temple of Jupiter. The devil, inhabiting the temple, shouted from the lips of the pagan priest that the boy in Julia's womb would destroy Jupiter and his pagan temple. When the boy was born, his mother wanted to kill him out of fear of the prediction, but his father opposed this and the child was left to live. He was named Pontius, and he grew up sharp of mind and keen for study. On his way to the pagan school Pontius happened to go past an house, where Christians were making the morning Divine-services. Hearing the words of the psalm which the Christians were singing: "pagan idols be silver and gold, the works of the hands of men..." (Ps. 113: 12 [115: 4]). Pontius became very interested in this verse and he paused at the gate. Pope Pontian, who was making the service, invited Pontius and his companion Valerian to come in. After the service, the pope talked for a long while with the youths, revealing to them the Gospel teachings, and after a certain while he baptised them. Saint Pontius in turn likewise converted his father to Christ, whom Pope Pontian also baptised, together with his whole household. And after the death of his father, Saint Pontius, then 20 years old, was appointed by the emperor Alexander Severus (222-235) as a senator, to take the place of his deceased father. In the Senate and the surroundings of the emperor, Saint Pontius enjoyed universal esteem for his good nature, sound sense and fairness. Under the successor to the emperor Alexander Severus Maximian (235-238), Pope Saint Pontian finished his life as a martyr (+ 235).
      Pope Saint Antherus was elected Bishop of Rome in place of Pope Saint Pontian, and he too soon accepted suffering and death for Christ (+ 236). His successor was Pope Saint Fabian (Fabius), who as a presbyter fearlessly gave burial to the bodies of martyrs. Pope Saint Fabian loved Saint Pontius as though he were his own flesh and blood son. Saint Pontius distributed with Saint Fabian all his substance on the needs of the poor. After the perishing of impious Maximian, the new emperor Gordian (238-244) did not persecute Christians, and thereafter in turn the emperor Philip (244-249) together with his co-regent son Philip was persuaded by the conversations and preaching of Saint Pontius to believe in Christ and to accept Baptism from holy Pope Fabian. With the permission of the emperors, Saints Pontius and Fabian threw down the statue of Jupiter at the pagan temple and on this place built a church. For 4 years the Church of Christ dwelt in peace and tranquility. But then Decius (249-251) ascended the throne, having organised a rebellion and murdered the emperor Philip and his son. And during this time Sainted Fabian, Pope of Rome (+ 250), accepted death for Christ. But Saint Pontius left Rome for the city of Cimelum (on the border of Italy and Gaul-France) and lived there like a stranger. During the time of the emperor Valerian (253-259), cruel torturers were sent out with full authority to all ends to seek out and kill all Christians. And thus Claudius and Anubius arrived in the city of Cimelum for this purpose. Saint Pontius fearlessly confessed himself a Christian and refused to offer sacrifice to idols. They shackled him in irons and threw him in prison. From the very beginning of the torture the saint calmly admonished the torturers, that the Lord would bring to naught the torture and they would see the power of God. And indeed, as soon as the servants attempted to tie Saint Pontius to the rack, it fell apart to pieces, and the torturers fell to the ground as though dead.
      "Be convinced, O man of little faith, in the power of my Lord", said Saint Pontius to Claudius, but on the advice of Anubius he gave Saint Pontius over to be devoured by two bears in the circus. The wild beasts, while not touching the saint, fell instead upon their keepers and tore at them. The spectators began to shout: "God only is the Christian God, in Whom believeth Pontius". By order of the torturers a bon-fire was built, but it burnt out, and the saint remained alive, and even his clothes did not burn. The crowd shouted all the more strongly: "Great is the God of the Christians!" Saint Pontius then was sentenced to beheading by the sword, and the execution was made out beyond the city in the year 257. The body of Saint Pontius was given burial at the place of execution by his comrade and friend Valerian.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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