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E00341: The Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome in the 530s, and re-edited before 546, in its account of *Pontianus (bishop and martyr of Rome, S00169), tells of his martyrdom in Sardinia on 30 October, the transfer of his body to Rome, and its burial in the cemetery of Callixtus on the via Appia outside the city.

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posted on 17.03.2015, 00:00 by robert
Liber Pontificalis 19

First edition (as reconstructed by Duchesne)

Pontianus, natione Romanus, ex patre Calpurnio, sed. ann. VIIII m. V d. II. Martyrio coronatur. (Hic fuit) temporibus Alexandri, a consolatu Pompeiani et Peliniani. Eodem tempore Pontianus episcopus et Yppolitus presbiter exilio sunt deputati ab Alexandro in Sardinia insula Bucina, Severo et Quintiano consulibus. In eadem insula adflictus, maceratus fustibus, defunctus est III kl. novemb. ... Quem beautus Fabianus adduxit navigio et sepelivit in cimeterio Calesti, via Appia.

'Pontianus, born in Rome, son of Calpurnius, held the see 9 years 5 months 2 days. He was crowned with martyrdom. He was bishop in the time of Alexander from the consulship of Pompeianus and Paelignianus [AD 231]. Then Pontianus the bishop and Hippolytus the priest were carried off into exile by Alexander to Sardinia, the island Bucina, in the consulship of Severus and Quintianus [AD 235]. In that island he suffered, was beaten with clubs and died on the third day before the Kalends of November [30 October] ... the blessed Fabianus brought him by ship and buried him in the cemetery of Callixtus on the via Appia.'


Second edition

Pontianus, natione Romanus, ex patre Calpurnio, sed. ann. VIIII m. V d. II. Martyrio coronatur. Fuit autem temporibus Alexandri, a consulatu Pompeiani et Peliniani. Eodem tempore Pontianus episcopus et Yppolitus presbiter exilio sunt deportati ab Alexandro in Sardinia insula Bucina, Severo et Quintiano consulibus. In eadem insula adflictus, maceratus fustibus, defunctus est III kal. novemb. ... Quem beautus Fabianus adduxit cum clero per navem et sepelivit in cymeterio Calisti, via Appia.

'Pontianus, born in Rome, son of Calpurnius, held the see 9 years 5 months 2 days. He was crowned with martyrdom. He was bishop in the time of Alexander from the consulship of Pompeianus and Paelignianus [AD 231]. Then Pontianus the bishop and Hippolytus the priest were carried off into exile by Alexander to Sardinia, the island Bucina, in the consulship of Severus and Quintianus [AD 235]. On that island he suffered, was beaten with clubs and died on the third day before the Kalends of November [30 October] ... the blessed Fabianus and the clergy brought him by ship and buried him in the cemetery of Callixtus on the via Appia.'


Text: Duchesne 1886: 63/65 and 145. Translation: Davis 2010, 7-8, lightly modified.

History

Evidence ID

E00341

Saint Name

Pontian, martyr and bishop of Rome, ob. c. 235 : S00169

Saint Name in Source

Pontianus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

530

Evidence not after

546

Activity not before

225

Activity not after

255

Place of Evidence - Region

Rome and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Rome

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Rome Rome Rome Roma Ῥώμη Rhōmē

Major author/Major anonymous work

Liber Pontificalis

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - cemetery/catacomb

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Transfer/presence of relics from distant countries

Source

The Liber Pontificalis consists of a series of short lives of popes. The preface attributes it to pope Damasus (366-384), but this attribution is obviously false. According to Louis Duchesne, the first modern editor of the Liber Pontificalis, the original series of lives was written in Rome by an anonymous author, probably a member of the lesser clergy, in the 530s, and contained the lives from *Peter the Apostle to Felix IV (ob. 530). Shortly after, before 546, the text was re-edited by another anonymous author and only this edition survives. The first edition, however, can be reconstituted on the basis of its two epitomes (and the second edition). The second edition started to be continued systematically from the time of pope Honorius (625–638). It should be noted that Theodor Mommsen dated both editions of the Liber Pontificalis to the 7th century, but his opinion is widely rejected and the commonly accepted dating is that of Duchesne. For the pre-Constantinian period (before 312), the credibility of the Liber Pontificalis is very low. The chronology is confused, and details concerning the personal lives, decisions, and ordinations of the bishops of Rome at best reflect what people in the 6th century trusted to be true, at worst are a pure invention of the author. The situation changes with the later lives. Already the information of 4th century papal foundations and offerings are generally trustworthy. The early 6th century evidence, based on the author's first hand knowledge is even better, though still imperfect.

Discussion

The account and the date of Pontianus' exile to Sardinia accompanied by the priest Hyppolitus, and Pontianus' death there, derive from the fourth-century 'Liberian Catalogue' (a text we have not entered into our database); but the information that he was martyred there (beaten to death with clubs), and that his body was brought back to Rome by Bishop Fabianus (his successor but one) is new in the Liber Pontificalis. That Pontianus was buried in the cemetery of Callixtus on the via Appia is well attested from an early date: it is mentioned in the Depositio Martirum of 354 (E01052, 13 August, a feast he shares with Hippolytus), and his epitaph (in Greek), with the words 'Pontianos, bishop, martyr' has been discovered there (E04740).

Bibliography

Edition: Duchesne, L., Le Liber pontificalis. 2 vols (Paris: E. Thorin, 1886-1892). (With substantial introduction and commentary.) Translation: Davis, R., The Book of Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis) (Translated Texts for Historians 6; 3rd ed.; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010).

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