August 5, 2019

Holy Martyr Pontius the Senator

St. Pontius the Senator (Feast Day - August 5)

This is how Valerian begins the biography of his companion, Saint Pontius: "Who can believe, if God does not grant it? Who can lead a life of asceticism, if the Lord does not help? Who can receive the wreath of martyrdom, if Christ does not give it?"

Pontius was the son of Senator Marcus and his wife Julia. The barren Julia conceived after twenty-two years of marriage. While with child, Julia had gone with her husband to the temple of Jupiter. The devil, inhabiting the temple, shouted through 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 eager for study.

One day on his way to school, Pontius happened to go past a house where Christians were attending the morning services. Hearing the words of the Psalm which the Christians were singing: “The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the works of men’s hands” (Ps. 114/115:4 and Ps. 134 /135:15), Pontius became very interested in this verse and he paused at the gate.

Saint Pontian, who was celebrating the service, invited Pontius and his companion and future biographer Valerian to come in. After the service, the bishop talked for a long while with the youths, revealing to them the Gospel teachings, and after a certain while he baptized them. Saint Pontius, in turn, converted his father to Christ, whom Saint Pontian also baptized, together with his whole household. He is said to have also converted Emperor Philip with his son and many other distinguished Romans to the faith of Christ.

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. As a senator, he greatly protected and assisted the Church and was a good friend of Pope Fabian.

When the persecution began under Decius, Pontius escaped from Rome and hid in the foothills of the Alpine mountains [Cimella Cimez, France]. During the reigns of Valerian and Galiena he was captured and subjected to harsh tortures during which many miracles of God were manifested and many converted to Christ. There happened to be many Jews there who cried out to the judge: "Kill him, kill him immediately, this magician." To this, Pontius raised his hands to heaven and said: "I thank You my God that the Jews even cry out against me as their fathers did once cry out against Christ: 'Crucify Him, crucify Him.'" Pontius was beheaded in the year 257 A.D. and was buried by his friend Valerian.


By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Pontius, with his companion Valerian, walked,

But, with sorrow, his heart was overcome.

His father, a senator, his mother also a senator,

But, a bitter enigma, torments his soul;

All worldly wisdom, a fable, to him seemed,

O, where is truth? Truth, he asked for.

Thus, both walked, absorbed in thought

At eventide, along side a Christian church;

Into the church entered and beheld glowing,

Beheld glowing and heard chanting:

Of silver and gold, the gods of the people are

And eyes, have they blind as mud, are they

And ears, have they deaf as a rock are they,

And mouths, have they but the mouths are mute.

Weaker than oneself, the weak ones created,

That is why their creator, as such will also be

And all of them in order, that to them bow down

And foolishly hope in lifeless things

Two sorrowful young men, two slaves of the idols,

Heard these words, both trembled,

Then, the image [icon] of Christ, approached,

To the honorable priest, entrusted their hearts,

What the truth faith is, the priest told them,

And idolatrous service, what it is: vacuous and bloody.

Into the church entered, two young noblemen,

Renown and respected throughout the city of Rome,

Into the church entered, sad and sorrowful,

From the church departed, radiant and joyful.