Pope Pontian

Pope Pontian (Latin: Pontianus; died October 235) was Pope from 21 July 230 to 28 September 235.[1] In 235, during the persecution of Christians in the reign of the Emperor Maximinus Thrax, Pontian was arrested and sent to the island of Sardinia. He resigned to make the election of a new pope possible.[1]

Pope Saint

Papacy began21 July 230
Papacy ended28 September 235
PredecessorUrban I
Personal details
DiedOctober 235
Sardinia, Roman Empire
Feast day13 August (Eastern Orthodox Church, Catholic Church 1969 calendar)
19 November (Catholic Church 1960 calendar and prior)


A little more is known of Pontian than his predecessors, apparently from a lost papal chronicle that was available to the compiler of the Liberian Catalogue of Bishops of Rome, written in the 4th century. The Liber Pontificalis states that he was a Roman citizen and that his father's name was Calpurnius. Early church historian Eusebius wrote that he reigned for six years.[2]

Pontian's pontificate was initially relatively peaceful under the reign of the tolerant Emperor Severus Alexander. He presided over the Roman synod which approved Origen's expulsion and deposition by the Alexandrian bishop Demetrius in 230 or 231.[1][2] According to Eusebius, the next emperor, Maximinus, overturned his predecessor's policy of tolerance towards Christianity.[3] Both Pope Pontian and the Antipope Hippolytus of Rome were arrested and exiled to labor in the mines of Sardinia,[4] generally regarded as a death sentence.[5]

In light of his sentence, Pontian resigned as bishop (the first papal renunciation), so as to allow an orderly transition in the Church of Rome, on 28 September 235; this date was recorded in the Liberian Catalogue and is notable for being the first full date of a papal reign given by contemporaries. This action ended a schism that had existed in the Church for eighteen years. He was beaten to death with sticks.[2][4] Neither Hippolytus nor Pontian survived, possibly reconciling with one another there or in Rome before their deaths. Pontian died in October 235.[6]


Pope Fabian had the bodies of both Pontian and Hippolytus brought back to Rome in 236 or 237, and the former buried in the papal crypt in the Catacomb of Callixtus on the Appian Way.[4][7] The slab covering his tomb was discovered in 1909. On it is inscribed in Greek: Ποντιανός Επίσκ (Pontianus Episk; in English Pontianus Bish). The inscription "Μάρτυρ", "MARTUR" had been added in another hand.[1]

In the Eastern Orthodox Church and the General Roman Calendar of 1969, Pontian and Hippolytus are commemorated jointly on 13 August.[8][9] In those Catholic communities which use a historical calendar such as the General Roman Calendar of 1960, Pontian's feast day is celebrated on 19 November.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Kirsch, Johann Peter (1911). "Pope St. Pontian" in The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  2. ^ a b c Kelly, J.N.D. (1986). The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 16.
  3. ^ Papandrea, James L. (January 23, 2012). Reading the Early Church Fathers: From the Didache to Nicaea. Paulist Press. ISBN 978-0809147519.
  4. ^ a b c Fr. Paolo O. Pirlo, SHMI (1997). "Sts. Pontian & Hippolytus". My First Book of Saints. Sons of Holy Mary Immaculate – Quality Catholic Publications. pp. 179–180. ISBN 978-971-91595-4-4.
  5. ^ G. W. Clarke, "Some Victims of the Persecution of Maximinus Thrax," Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, Bd. 15, H. 4 (November 1966): pp. 445-453.
  6. ^ Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2000), 45.
  7. ^ McBrien, Lives of the Popes, 45.
  8. ^ http://www.orthodoxengland.org.uk/stdaug.htm
  9. ^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 146
  10. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia.


External links

Titles of the Great Christian Church
Preceded by
Urban I
Bishop of Rome

Succeeded by

Year 230 (CCXXX) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Agricola and Clementinus (or, less frequently, year 983 Ab urbe condita). The denomination 230 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.


The 230s decade ran from January 1, 230, to December 31, 239.

== Events ==

=== 230 ===

==== By place ====

====== Roman Empire ======

Emperor Alexander Severus decides that Thessaly should be a separate province from Macedonia. He increases taxes in order to maintain the war against the Sassanids and strengthen the defenses of the Roman Empire.

====== Persia ======

King Ardashir I, ruler of the Persian Empire, invades the Roman province of Mesopotamia and unsuccessfully besieges the fortress town of Nisibis (Turkey). His army threatens the border outposts of Syria and Cappadocia.

Alexander Severus assembles the Roman army and establishes his headquarters at Antioch. He attempts a diplomatic solution, but the Persians decline and choose war.

====== Korea ======

Jobun becomes king of the Korean kingdom of Silla.

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

July 21 – Pope Pontian succeeds Pope Urban I as the eighteenth pope.

Patriarch Castinus succeeds Patriarch Ciriacus I as Patriarch of Constantinople.

Seventy Bishops hold the Council of the Christian Church of Africa.

=== 231 ===

==== By place ====

====== Roman Empire ======

Emperor Alexander Severus accompanies his mother Julia Mamaea to Syria and campaigns against the Persians. Military command rests in the hands of his generals, but his presence gives additional weight to the empire's policy.

====== China ======

Battle of Mount Qi between the Chinese states of Shu Han and Cao Wei

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

Origen, disciple of Ammonius Saccas, founder of Neoplatonism, is exiled in Caesarea.

=== 232 ===

==== By place ====

====== Roman Empire ======

Roman–Persian Wars: Emperor Alexander Severus launches a three-pronged counterattack against the Persian forces of king Ardashir I, who have invaded Mesopotamia. However, the Roman army advancing through Armenia is halted. Alexander gives the order to march to the capital at Ctesiphon, but the Romans are defeated and withdraw to Syria. The result is an acceptance of the status quo and after heavy losses on both sides, a truce is signed.

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

Relics of St. Thomas are brought to Edessa from India.

Origen founds a school of Christian theology in Palestine.

Pope Heraclas of Alexandria is the first Bishop of Alexandria to use the appellation of "Pope".

=== 233 ===

==== By place ====

====== Roman Empire ======

Emperor Alexander Severus celebrates a triumph in Rome to observe his "victory" the previous year over the Persians. In reality Severus Alexander advanced towards Ctesiphon in 233, but as corroborated by Herodian, his armies suffered a humiliating defeat against Ardashir I.He is soon summoned to the Rhine frontier, where the Alamanni invade what is now modern day Swabia. German tribes destroy Roman forts and plunder the countryside at the Limes Germanicus.

=== 234 ===

==== By place ====

====== Roman Empire ======

Emperor Alexander Severus and his mother Julia Mamaea move to Moguntiacum (modern Mainz), the capital of Germania Superior. His generals have planned a military offensive and built a bridge across the Rhine. Alexander prefers to negotiate for peace by buying off the Alemanni. This policy outrages the Roman legions and he loses the trust of the troops.

====== China ======

Battle of Wuzhang Plains between the Chinese states of Shu Han and Cao Wei

====== Korea ======

Saban becomes king of the Korean kingdom of Baekje. He is succeeded by Goi of Baekje later in the same year.

=== 235 ===

==== By place ====

====== Roman Empire ======

Said to have been the beginning of the decline of the Roman empire.

March 19 – Emperor Alexander Severus and his mother Iulia Mamaea are murdered by their own soldiers near Moguntiacum (modern Mainz); Legio XXII Primigenia mutinies. The Severan dynasty ends. This marks the epoch event of the Crisis of the Third Century.

March 20 – Maximinus Thrax, age 62, is proclaimed Augustus. He is not a senator but the second emperor of the equestrian order since Macrinus 17 years earlier. Maximinus had been a common soldier in the army, serving in the Auxilia and the Imperial Horseguards to become governor of several provinces.

Widely considered to be the beginning of the Crisis of the Third Century: The Roman Empire is under pressure by the Alamanni, Franks, Goths, Quadi and Sassanids (Persia).

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

September 28 – Pope Pontian resigns, the first to abdicate, because he and Hippolytus, church leader of Rome, are exiled to the mines of Sardinia. Emperor Maximinus persecutes the Christians.

November 21 – Pope Anterus succeeds Pontian as the nineteenth pope.

Origen makes revisions to the Septuagint.

=== 236 ===

==== By place ====

====== Roman Empire ======

Emperor Maximinus Thrax and Marcus Pupienus Africanus Maximus become Roman consuls.

The Roman Senate appoints a twenty-man committee to co-ordinate operations against Maximinus.

Maximinus campaigns against Dacians and Sarmatians from his supply depot at Sirmium.

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

January 10 – Pope Fabian succeeds Pope Anterus as the twentieth pope.

Fabian separates Rome into seven deaconships.

Fabian sends seven missionaries to Gaul to evangelize in the large cities.

=== 237 ===

==== By place ====

====== Roman Empire ======

Emperor Maximinus Thrax campaigns on the rivers Danube and Rhine in Germania, defeating the Alemanni and never visits Rome. He is accepted by the Roman Senate, but taxes the rich aristocracy heavily and engenders such hostility among them that they plot against him.

====== Persia ======

King Ardashir I of Persia renews his attacks on the Roman province of Mesopotamia.

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

Patriarch Eugenius I succeeds Patriarch Castinus as Patriarch of Constantinople.

Saint Babylas becomes Patriarch of Antioch.

=== 238 ===

==== By place ====

====== Roman Empire ======

Emperor Maximinus Thrax campaigns against the Carpians on the Danube in Moesia (Balkans). In spite of the payment of a tribute, the Romans fail to persuade the Goths and the Germanic tribes.

March 22 – Roman subjects in Africa revolt against Maximinus. The elderly Marcus Antonius Gordianus yields to public demand that he succeed Maximinus and rules jointly with his 46-year-old son Gordian II.

April 12 – Battle of Carthage: Numidian forces loyal to Maximinus invade Africa with support of Legio III Augusta. Gordian II is killed and after a siege of 36 days, Gordian I commits suicide by hanging himself with his belt.

April 22 – Year of the Six Emperors: The Senate outlaws Maximinus for his bloodthirsty proscriptions in Ancient Rome and nominates two of its members, Pupienus and Balbinus, to the throne.

Maximinus advances to the town Aquileia in northern Italy; his army suffers from famine and disease, while the city is besieged. Soldiers of Legio II Parthica kill him in his tent, along with his son Maximinus (who is appointed co-emperor). Their corpses are decapitated and their heads carried to Rome.

July 29 – The Praetorian Guard storms the palace and captures Pupienus and Balbinus. They are dragged naked through the streets of Rome and executed. On the same day Gordian III, age 13, is proclaimed the new emperor. Timesitheus becomes his tutor and advisor.

Future Roman Emperor Valerian becomes princeps senatus.

The Colosseum is restored after being damaged.

The Goths, coming from Ukraine, cross the Danube and devastate the Roman Empire up to the border with Anatolia.

In North Africa, Legio III Augusta is dissolved. Until its reconstitution in 253, Africa is defended by auxiliary forces only.

====== China ======

Sima Yi, a Chinese general of the Cao Wei state, destroys the outlying northeastern warlord Gongsun Yuan in the Liaodong campaign.

==== By topic ====

====== Commerce ======

The silver content of the Roman denarius falls to 28 percent under emperor Gordianus III, down from 35 percent under Alexander Severus.

=== 239 ===

==== By place ====

====== China ======

Cao Fang succeeds his adoptive father Cao Rui as the emperor of the Cao Wei state in the Three Kingdoms period of China.

A Chinese expeditionary force from the Eastern Wu state discovers the island of Taiwan.

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

Origen publishes the Old Testament in five languages.


Year 235 (CCXXXV) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Severus and Quintianus (or, less frequently, year 988 Ab urbe condita). The denomination 235 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.


An antipope (Latin: antipapa) is a person who, in opposition to the one who is generally seen as the legitimately elected Pope, makes a significantly accepted competing claim to be the Pope, the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Roman Catholic Church. At times between the 3rd and mid-15th centuries, antipopes were supported by a fairly significant faction of religious cardinals and secular or anti-religious monarchs and kingdoms. Persons who claim to be pope, but have few followers, such as the modern sedevacantist antipopes, are not classified with the historical antipopes.

August 13

August 13 is the 225th day of the year (226th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 140 days remain until the end of the year.

Catacomb of Callixtus

The Catacomb(s) of Callixtus (also known as the Cemetery of Callixtus) is one of the Catacombs of Rome on the Appian Way, most notable for containing the Crypt of the Popes (Italian: Cappella dei Papi), which once contained the tombs of several popes from the 2nd to 4th centuries.

Catacomb of Pontian

The Catacomb(s) of Pontian is one of the catacombs of Rome on the Via Portuensis, notable for containing the original tombs of Pope Anastasius I (399–401) and his son Pope Innocent I (401–417). The Catacomb was discovered by famed Italian explorer Antonio Bosio in 1618.Both Anastasius I and Innocent I were traditionally regarded as martyrs, but this is now regarded as dubious, due to the lack of a contemporaneous persecution. In the ninth century, Pope Sergius II moved both popes to San Martino ai Monti in an effort to save them from destruction during the Lombard invasion. The catacomb does not contain the tomb of Pope Pontian, who was interred in the Catacomb of Callixtus, nor is it named after him; rather it is named after an unknown third-century Christian martyr.Other notable remains in the Catacomb include: Saints Abdon and Sennen, martyrs Milix and Vincent, Saint Pollio, Saint Candida, Saint Pigmenius, and Saint Quirinus of Rome. The Catacomb contains a fifth/sixth-century fresco of Saints Marcellinus and Peter along with Saint Pollio, as well as an ancient baptistry containing a painting of the crowning of Abdon and Sennen.

Christianity in the 3rd century

Christianity in the 3rd century was largely the time of the Ante-Nicene Fathers who wrote after the Apostolic Fathers of the 1st and 2nd centuries but before the First Council of Nicaea in 325 (ante-nicene meaning before Nicaea).

In the Edict of Milan (313 AD) the Roman Emperors Constantine the Great and Licinius legalised the Christian religion.

Hippolytus of Rome

Hippolytus (c. 170–235 AD) was one of the most important second-third century Christian theologians, whose provenance, identity and corpus remain elusive to scholars and historians. Suggested communities include Palestine, Egypt, Anatolia, Rome and regions of the mideast. The best historians of literature in the ancient church, including Eusebius of Caesarea and Jerome, openly confess they cannot name where Hippolytus the biblical commentator and theologian served in leadership. They had read his works but did not possess evidence of his community. Photios I of Constantinople describes him in his Bibliotheca (cod. 121) as a disciple of Irenaeus, who was said to be a disciple of Polycarp, and from the context of this passage it is supposed that he suggested that Hippolytus so styled himself. This assertion is doubtful. One older theory asserts he came into conflict with the popes of his time and seems to have headed a schismatic group as a rival to the Bishop of Rome, thus becoming an Antipope. In this view, he opposed the Roman Popes who softened the penitential system to accommodate the large number of new pagan converts. However, he was reconciled to the Church before he died as a martyr.Starting in the fourth century, various legends arose about him, identifying him as a priest of the Novatianist schism or as a soldier converted by Saint Lawrence. He has also been confused with another martyr of the same name. Pope Pius IV identifies him as "Saint Hippolytus, Bishop of Pontus" who was martyred in the reign of Severus Alexander through his inscription on a statue found at the Church of Saint Lawrence in Rome and kept at the Vatican as photographed and published in Brunsen.

July 21

July 21 is the 202nd day of the year (203rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 163 days remain until the end of the year.

List of canonised popes

This article lists the Popes who have been canonised or recognised as Saints in the Roman Catholic Church they had led. A total of 83 (out of 266) Popes have been recognised universally as canonised saints, including all of the first 35 Popes (31 of whom were martyrs) and 52 of the first 54. If Pope Liberius is numbered amongst the Saints as in Eastern Christianity, all of the first 49 Popes become recognised as Saints, of whom 31 are Martyr-Saints, and 53 of the first 54 Pontiffs would be acknowledged as Saints. In addition, 13 other Popes are in the process of becoming canonised Saints: as of December 2018, two are recognised as being Servants of God, two are recognised as being Venerable, and nine have been declared Blessed or Beati, making a total of 95 (97 if Pope Liberius and Pope Adeodatus II are recognised to be Saints) of the 266 Roman Pontiffs being recognised and venerated for their heroic virtues and inestimable contributions to the Church.

The most recently reigning Pope to have been canonised was Pope John Paul II, whose cause for canonisation was opened in May 2005. John Paul II was beatified on May 1, 2011, by Pope Benedict XVI and later canonised, along with Pope John XXIII, by Pope Francis on April 27, 2014. Pope Francis also canonised Pope Paul VI on October 14, 2018.

List of popes who died violently

A collection of popes who have had violent deaths through the centuries. The circumstances have ranged from martyrdom (Pope Stephen I) to war (Lucius II), to a beating by a jealous husband (Pope John XII). A number of other popes have died under circumstances that some believe to be murder, but for which definitive evidence has not been found.

Maximinus Thrax

Maximinus Thrax (Latin: Gaius Iulius Verus Maximinus Augustus; c. 173 – May 238), also known as Maximinus I, was Roman Emperor from 235 to 238.

A Thraco-Roman of low birth, Maximinus was the commander of the Legio IV Italica when Severus Alexander was assassinated by his own troops in 235. The Praetorian Guard then elected Maximinus emperor.

In the year 238 (which came to be known as the Year of the Six Emperors), a senatorial revolt broke out, leading to the successive proclamation of Gordian I, Gordian II, Pupienus, Balbinus and Gordian III as emperors in opposition to Maximinus. Maximinus advanced on Rome to put down the revolt, but was halted at Aquileia, where he was assassinated by disaffected elements of the Legio II Parthica.

Maximinus is described by several ancient sources, though none are contemporary except Herodian's Roman History. He was a so-called barracks emperor of the 3rd century; his rule is often considered to mark the beginning of the Crisis of the Third Century. Maximinus was the first emperor who hailed neither from the senatorial class nor from the equestrian class.

Papal travel

Papal travel outside Rome has been historically rare, and voluntary travel was non-existent for the first 500 years. Pope John Paul II (1978–2005) undertook more pastoral trips than all his predecessors combined. Pope Francis (2013-), Pope Paul VI (1963–1978) and Pope Benedict XVI (2005–2013) also travelled globally, the latter to a lesser extent due to his advanced age.

Popes resided outside Rome—primarily in Viterbo, Orvieto, and Perugia—during the 13th century, and then absconded to France during the Avignon Papacy (1309–1378). Pope Vigilius (537-555) in 547, Pope Agatho (678-681) in 680, and Pope Constantine in 710 visited Constantinople, whereas Pope Martin I (649-655) was abducted there for trial in 653. Pope Stephen II (752-757) became the first pope to cross the Alps in 752 to crown Pepin the Short; Pope Pius VII repeated the feat over a millennium later to crown Napoleon.


Pontianus may refer to several figures of the ancient world:

Pontianus of Spoleto, martyr of the 2nd century and patron saint of that city

Sicinius Pontianus, ca. 2nd century, stepson of Apuleius (described in the Apologia of Apuleius), son of Aemilia Pudentilla, and older brother of Sicinius Pudens

Pope Pontian, pope and martyr, ruled 230-235

Pontianus Africae, 6th-century bishop, involved in the Christological controversies of the period

Pope Anterus

Pope Anterus (died 3 January 236) was the Bishop of Rome from 21 November 235 to his death in 236. He succeeded Pope Pontian, who had been deported from Rome to Sardinia, along with the antipope Hippolytus.

Anterus was the son of Romulus, born in Petilia Policastro, Calabria. He is thought to have been of Greek origin, and his name may indicate that he was a freed slave. He created one bishop, for the city of Fondi.

Pope Fabian

Pope Fabian (Latin: Fabianus; c. 200 – 20 January 250) was the Bishop of Rome from 10 January 236 to his death in 250, succeeding Anterus. He is famous for the miraculous nature of his election, in which a dove is said to have descended on his head to mark him as the Holy Spirit's unexpected choice to become the next pope. He was succeeded by Cornelius.

Most of his papacy was characterized by amicable relations with the imperial government, and Fabian could thus bring back to Rome for Christian burial the bodies of Pope Pontian and the antipope Hippolytus, both of whom had died in exile in the Sardinian mines. It was also probably during his reign that the schism between the two corresponding Roman congregations of these leaders was ended. He was highly esteemed by Cyprian; Novatian refers to his nobilissima memoriae, and he corresponded with Origen. One authority refers to him as Flavian.The Liber Pontificalis, a fourth-century document that survives in later copies, says that he divided Rome into diaconates and appointed secretaries to collect the records of the martyrs. He is also said, probably without basis, to have baptized the emperor Philip the Arab and his son. More plausible is the report in the Liberian Catalogue that he sent out seven "apostles to the Gauls" as missionaries.

He died a martyr at the beginning of the Decian persecution and is venerated as a saint by the Catholic Church. Fabian's feast day is commemorated on January 20, the same as Saint Sebastian, in whose church his sepulcher lies in Rome.

September 28

September 28 is the 271st day of the year (272nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 94 days remain until the end of the year.

1st–4th centuries
During the Roman Empire (until 493)
including under Constantine (312–337)
5th–8th centuries
Ostrogothic Papacy (493–537)
Byzantine Papacy (537–752)
Frankish Papacy (756–857)
9th–12th centuries
Papal selection before 1059
Saeculum obscurum (904–964)
Crescentii era (974–1012)
Tusculan Papacy (1012–1044/1048)
Imperial Papacy (1048–1257)
13th–16th centuries
Viterbo (1257–1281)
Orvieto (1262–1297)
Perugia (1228–1304)
Avignon Papacy (1309–1378)
Western Schism (1378–1417)
Renaissance Papacy (1417–1534)
Reformation Papacy (1534–1585)
Baroque Papacy (1585–1689)
17th–20th centuries
Age of Enlightenment (c. 1640-1740)
Revolutionary Papacy (1775–1848)
Roman Question (1870–1929)
Vatican City (1929–present)
21st century
History of the papacy
Virgin Mary
See also

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