The Martyrdom of Pionius and his Companions

1.  The Apostle urges us to share in the remembrances of the saints, fully aware that to call to mind those who have passed their lives in the faith wisely with all their hearts gives strength to those who are striving to imitate the better things. Indeed, more fitting is it that we should remember the martyr Pionius seeing that this apostolic man, being one of us, kept many from straying while he dwelt in the world, and when he was finally called to the Lord and bore witness, he left us this writing for our instruction that we might have it even to this day as a memorial of his teaching.

2. On the second day of the sixth month, on the occasion of a great Sabbath, and on the anniversary of the blessed martyr Polycarp, while the persecution of Decius was still on, there were arrested the presbyter Pionius, the holy woman Sabina, Ascleplades, Macedonia, and Limnos, a presbyter of the Catholic Church. Now Pionius knew on the day before Polycarp' anniversary that they were all to be siezed on that day. Being together with Sabina and Asclepiades and fasting, as he realized that they were to be taken on the following day, he took three sets of woven chains and placed them around his own neck and the necks of Sabina and Asclepiades and thus entertained them in his house. He did this with a view to those who were to arrest him, lest any be given to suspect that they were being induced to eat forbidden foods as the others were, but rather that all should know that they were determined to be led off to prison forthwith.

3.  It was Saturday and after they had prayed and taken the sacred bread with water, Polemon the temple verger came in on them with his men in order to seek out the Christians and drag them off to offer sacrifice and to taste forbidden meats.

"Surely you are aware," said the verger, "of the emperor' edict commanding us to sacrifice to the gods."
"We are aware," said Pionius, "of the commandments of God ordering us to worship him alone."
Polemon said: "Come then to the market-place; there you will change your minds."
Sabina and Asclepiades said: "We obey the living God."

He led them off then without restraint and as they walked along everyone saw that they were wearing their chains, and such a crowd rushed up in haste as it were for a strange sight, that they jostled one another. As they came into the forum, by the eastern Stoa and the double gate, all the forum and the upper storeys of the porches were crowded with Greeks, Jews, and women. They were on holiday because it was a great Sabbath. They drew near, looking towards the tribunal steps and the voting urns.

4. Polemon then had them set in front of him and spoke: "Pionius, it would be wise for you to obey and offer sacrifice like everyone else, so that you may not be punished." So then Pionius stretching forth his hand began his speech of defence with the following words: "You men who boast of the beauty of Smyrna, and you who dwell by the river Meles and who glory (as you claim) in Homer, and those among this audience who are Jews, listen while I make my brief discourse.

"I understand that you laughed and rejoiced at those who deserted, and considered as a joke the error of those who voluntarily offered sacrifice. Men of Greece, it behoved you to listen to your teacher Homer, who counsels that it is not a holy thing to gloat over those who are to die. And as for you, men of Judaea, Moses commands, If you should see the beast of your enemy fall down under his load, you shall not pass by but you shall go and raise it up (Deut 22:4). In like manner should you listen to Solomon: If your enemy falls, he says, do not rejoice, and do not be glad when he stumbles (Prov 24:17).

"I, at any rate, in obedience to my Master, have chosen to die rather than transgress his commands, and I make every effort not to change from the things I have learned and have myself later taught. At whom then do the Jews laugh without sym-pathy? For even if, as they claim, we are their enemies, we are at any rate men, and men who have been treated unjustly. They claim we have our chance to speak out. Yes, but whom have we offended? Did we murder anyone? Did we prosecute anyone? Did we force anyone to worship false gods? Or perhaps they think that their crimes are similar to those now committed by men out of fear. Rather, their sins differ as much as voluntary sins are different from indeliberate ones. Who forced the Jews to sacrifice to Beelphegor? Or partake of the sacrifices offered to the dead? Or to fornicate with the daughters of foreigners? Or to sacrifice their sons and daughters to idols? To murmur against God? To slander Moses ? To be ungrateful to their benefactors ? Or in their hearts to return to Egypt? Or, as Moses went up to receive the Law, to say to Aaron, Make gods for us, and then to make the calf - and all the other things they did? For they are capable of deceiving you. Then let them read to you the book of Judges, Kings, or Exodus, or all the other passages which prove them wrong.

"Do they ask why was it that some, without any pressure, came to sacrifice of their own accord? But would you condemn all Christians because of these? Consider the present life as though it were a threshing-floor. Which pile is the larger, the chaff or the wheat? For when the farmer comes to clear the threshing-floor with his winnowing-fan, the chaff, being lighter, is easily carried off by the wind, whereas thc wheat remains where it was.

"Consider again the net that is cast into the sea. Surely not everything that it gathers is of value. So is it with the present life. In what guise would you prefer us to suffer this, as men who are innocent or as guilty? If we are guilty, then how will you escape the same penalty, being proved wicked by your own deeds? And if we are innocent, then what hope can you have when even the just suffer? If the just man is saved only with difficulty, then what place will there be for tht impious and the sinner? (1 Pet 4:18). The judgement on the world is imminent: of this we are convinced for many reasons.

"Once on a journey I travelled all through Palestine, and crossing the Jordan river I saw a land that bears witness even to this day of the divine anger that has afflicted it by reason of the sins committed by its inhabitants, who killed foreigners, drove them out, or did them violence. I saw smoke rising even until now, and a land scorched by fire, deprived of all produce and water. I saw, too, the Dead Sea, a body of water transformed and depicted beyond its natural state by the fear of God, unable to nurture any living thing; indeed, anything thrust into it is expelled upwards by the water, and it cannot hold even a man' body within it. It refuses to receive man lest it ever again be punished because of man.

"But here I speak of things that are far away. You yourselves see and testify how the land of the Lydian Decapolis is scorched by fire and remains as an example of men' impiety even to this day; you know the volcanic fire of Etna and Sicily and even Lycia and the islands. And even though this has kept away from you, consider your familiarity with hot water, I mean the sort which gushes up from the earth: how else could it be enkindled and heated unless it emerged from an underground fire? Consider, too, the partial conflagrations and floods, such as you know of, for example, in the case of Deucalion, and we in the case of Noah. They are partial and occur in this way that we may comprehend the nature of the whole from the part.

"Hence we bear witness to you of the judgement by fire that is to come, accomplished by God through his Word, Jesus Christ. And so for this reason we do not worship your so-called gods, nor will we adore the golden idol."

5.  Pionius said all this and very much else, so that he did not stop for a long time. The temple verger and his assistants and the entire crowd listened attentively, and the silence was so great that no one uttered a sound. Pionius once more repeated his words, "We do not worship your gods, nor will we adore the golden idol. At this they were brought out into the open in front of everyone, and they were surrounded by a number of advocates, who together with Polemon, began to entreat Pionius, saying: "Listen to us, Pionius: we love you. There are many reasons why you deserve to live, for your character and righteousness. It is good to live and to see the light," and many other things of this nature.

Pionius replied: "I too agree that life is good, but the life that we long for is better; and so too of light, that one true light, All these things are indeed good, and we do not run from them as though we are eager to die or because we hate God' works. Rather, we despise these things which ensnare us because of the superiority of those other great goods.

6.  There was a lawyer by the name of Alexander, a wicked man, who spoke: "Listen to us, Pionius." "You should be concerned," said Pionius, "to listen to me. What you know, I know; but what I know, you are ignorant of." Alexander was minded to make sport of him, for he said to him ironically: "Why are you wearing these chains?"

"First of all," said Pionius, "so that though we are passing through your city, we mlght not be suspected of having come to eat forbidden foods; secondly, that you may understand that we do not consent even to be questioned. Rather we have made our decision and are going not to the temple of Nemesis but to the public gaol. And lastly, that you may not seize us and take us off by force but rather leave us alone because we are already in chains. Indeed, as it happened, you did not bring us into your temples with chains on.

In such wise was Alexander silenced. And when they kept begging him once more, he said: "This is our decision." And when Pionius continued to refute them in many things and to speak to them about what was to come, Alexander said: "What use is all this talk of yours, when it is impossible for you to live?"

7.  The people were for having an assembly called in the theatre so that they could hear more of this; but some friends of the strategos approached Polemon the temple verger and said: "Do not allow Pionius to speak, lest when the people go to the theatre there be a disturbance and an investigation be made about the fellow."

When Polemon heard this, he said: "Pionius, even though you do not wish to sacrifice, at least go into the temple of Nemesis." But Pionius said: "But it would not profit your idols if we went there."  "Obey us, Pionius," said Polemon. Pionius said: "Would that I were able to persuade you to become Christians." The men laughed aloud at him. "You have not such power that we should be burnt alive," they said.  "It is far worse," said Pionius, " to burn after death."

Sabina smiled at this, and the verger and his men said: "You laugh?" "If God so wills," she said, "I do. You see, we are Christians. Those who believe in Christ will laugh unhesitatingly in everlasting joy." They told her: "You are going to suffer something you do not like. Women who refuse to sacrifice are put into a brothel." "The God who is all holy", she said, "will take care of this."

8.  Again Polemon spoke to Pionius: "Pionius, listen to us."

Pionius said: "You have been ordered either to persuade us or to punish us. You are not persuading us. So, inflict the punishment." The verger Polemon once again made the request: "Offer the sacrifice, Pionius." "I am a Christian," answered Pionius.

"Which god do you worship?" asked Polemon. "The God who is almighty," said Pionius, "who made the heavens and the earth and all things that are in them, (Acts 4:24) and all of us; the God who richly furnishes us with everything (1 Tim 6:17), the God we know through Christ his Word."

"Make a sacrifice at least to the emperor," said Polemon.
"I am a Christian," said Pionius. "I do not offer sacrifice to men."

9.  Then he interrogated him for the sake of the record, while a notary took everything down. "What is your name?" he asked him.

  "Pionius," was the answer.

  "Are you a Christian?" asked Polemon

  "Yes," said Pionius.

  Polemon the verger said: "What church do you belong to?"

  "The Catholic Church," was the answer; "with Christ there is no other."

Next he came to Sabina. But first Pionius spoke to her: "Call yourself Theodotê" This he did that she might not, because of her true name, fall into the hands of the immoral Politta, who had been her former mistress. Under the Emperor Gordian this woman, in an attempt to change the glirl's faith, had Sabina bound and cast out on the mountains; but here she received sustenance secretly from the brethren. After this, however, efforts were made to free her from her bonds and from Politta, and since for the most part she lived with Pionius, she was captured in the present persecution.

At any rate, Polemon spoke to her next: "What is your name?"

"Theodotê," she said.

"Are you a Christian?" he asked.

"Yes, I am," she said.

"What is your church?" said Polemon.

Sabina answered: "The Catholic Church."

"Whom do you worship?" said Polemon.

Sabina answered: "Almighty God, who made the heavens and the earth and all of us, and who has been made known to us through his Word, Jesus Christ."

He then interrogated Asclepiades: "Your name?"

"Asclepiades," was the answer.

"Are you a Christian?" asked Polemon.

"Yes," said Aselepiades.

"Whom do you worship?" asked Polemon.

"Jesus Christ," answered Aselepiades.

"Is this the same one or another?" asked Polemom

"No," answered Asclepiades, "but the same one whom the others have referred to."

10.  After this exchange they were taken off to the gaol, and a huge crowd followed so that the market-place was filled. Some remarked of Pionius: "He has always looked so pale, but now look how ruddy his complexion is!" And Sabina held on to his clothing because of the jostling of the crowd, so that some said in jest, "Why, how terrified she is that she may be weaned!"

Someone shouted: "If they don"t sacrifice they ought to be punished!"

Polemon said: "But the fasces do not allow us to exercise authority."

Someone else said, "Why look, the litfie fellow' going off to sacrifice!" He was referring to Asclepiades who was with us.

Pionius said: "You lie; he is doing no such thing."

Still others said: "But this one and that one have offered sacrifice."

Pionius said: "Each man has his own life to lead. This has nothing to do with me. My name is Pionius."

Still others said: "What a terrible chastisement!" and "So indeed it is!"

Pionius said: "This sort of punishment you knew of from times of famine and violent death, and other plagues."

And someone said to him: "You too went hungry with us." Pionius said: "Yes, I did, with trust in God."

11. They were so pressed by the crowd as to be stifled, and after Pionius had said this, they took them with difficulty, handed them over to the gaolers, and put them in prison. As they went in they found a presbyter of the Catholic Church imprisoned there by the name of Limnns, a Macedonian woman from the town of Karinê, and a man named Eutychian from the sect of the Phrygians. When they were all gathered together the gaolers realized that Pionius and his group were not accepting the things brought to them by the faithful·

Pionius had said: "When we had need of much more, we were a burden to no one. Are we to accept it now?"

Hence the gaolers became angry, because they used to benefit by whatever came in to the prisoners. So in their anger they cast the prisoners into the inner part of the prison because they received no gifts from them. The prisoners, however, praised God and kept tranquil, offering the guards the usual friendship, so that the prison warden changed his mind and had them brought back to their former place. And they persisted in saying: "Praise to the Lord! This has happened to us for our good." For they were at liberty to discourse and to pray night and day.

12.  None the less while they were in prison many pagans came to try to persuade them but they were surprised to hear the answers they gave. Into the prison as well came many Christian brethren who had been carried off by force, and they made a great lament. Indeed, they were constantly in deep grief, especially those who had lived a good life in the ways of the devout, so that Pionins wept as he told them: "I am tormented anew, and I am torn limb from limb, when I see the pearls of the Church being trampled by swlne, the stars of heaven being swept down to earth by the dragon' tail, and the vine which the right hand of God planted being ravaged by the solitary wild boar, so that all those who pass by on the road may pluck its fruit. (Ps 80:13 LXX)

"My little children, once again I bear you in travail until Christ shall be formed within you" (Gal 4:19). My tender sons have travelled rough roads (Baruch 4:26). Once again the vicious old men spy on Susanna; now they discover the delicate and lovely girl, to be filled with her beauty and utter lies against her. Now again is Aman made drunk, and Esther and the whole city is in terror. Once again there is no hunger or thirst for bread and water, but rather for listening to the word of the Lord. Have all the virgins completely nodded and fallen asleep? The word of the Lord Jesus is fulfilled: When the Son of man comes, will he ftnd faith on earth? (Lk 18:8). I also hear that each one is betraying his neighbour, that the word might be fulfilled, Brother will deliver brother up to death (Mk 13:12). Indeed, Satan has demanded to have us that he might sift us like wheat (Lk 22:31), and the fiery winnowing-fork is in the hand of the Word of God for the clearing of the threshing-floor. It may be that the salt has lost its savour and, cast out, is trodden on by men. But let no one imagine, my little children, that the Lord has failed, but rather we ourselves. Can my hand be shortened, he says, that it cannot save, or my ear made dull that it cannot hear? But your sins have made a separation between you and my God (Isa 59:1-2). For we have sinned, and some of us have indeed been scornful; we have done wrong by backbiting and by accusing one another; thus we have been destroyed by one another. Rather should our justice exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees (Mt 5:20).

13. "I understand also that the Jews have been inviting some of you to their synagogues. Beware lest you fall into a greater, more deliberate sin, lest anyone commit the unforgivable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Do not become with them rulers of Sodom and people of Gomorrha, whose hands are tainted with blood. We did not slay our prophets nor did we betray Christ and crucify him. But why need I say much to you? Recall what you have heard; and now put into practice what you have learned. For you have also heard that the Jews say: Christ was a man, and he died a criminal. But let them tell us, what other criminal has filled the entire world with his disciples ? What other criminal had his disciples and others with them to die for the name of their master? By what other criminal' name for so many years were devils expelled, are still expelled now, and will be in future? And so it is with all the other wonders that are done in the Catholic Church. What these people forget is that this criminal departed from life at his own choice. Again, they assert that Christ performed necromancy or spirit-divination with the cross. Yet what Scripture in their possession or in ours says this of Christ? Did any good man ever say this? Are not those who say this wicked men? How then can you believe the words of the wicked rather than those of the good?

14. "For my part, this lie that is repeated now as though it were recent, I have heard uttered by Jewish people since I was a child. It is written that Saul inquired of a diviner, and that he said to the woman who was performing the necromancy, Bring up for me Samuel (1 Sam 28:11), the prophet. And the woman saw a man rising up wrapped in a robe, and Saul recognized that it was Samuel, and put to him the questions that he wanted.

"Well, then, was the diviner able to bring up Samuel or not? If they say she was, then they admit that wickedness has more power than righteousness, and then they are accursed. If they say that she did not, then they should not assert it of Christ the Lord. But the explanation of this story is as follows. How was this wicked diviner, herself a demon, able to bring up the soul of the holy prophet that was resting in the bosom of Abraham ? For the lesser is commanded by the greater. Surely then Samuel was not brought back, as these suppose ? Of course not. The truth is somewhat as follows. Whenever anyone revolts from God he is followed by the rebel angels, and demonic ministers assist him with every sort of drug, magician, priest, and wizard. And no wonder: for the Apostle says: Even Satan disguises himself us an angel of light. So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness? (2 Cor 11:14-15). Indeed, even the Antichrist will appear as Christ. So then Samuel was not brought up from the grave; but rather demons from Hell disguised themselves as Samuel and thus appeared to the diviner and to the faithless Saul. The Scriptures themselves will show you this. For Samuel in the apparition says to Saul: You too shall be with me today. How is it possible that the idolatrous Saul is found together with Samuel? Rather is it clear that he is with the wicked demons who have deceived him and have become his masters. Hence it cannot have been Samuel. But if it is impossible to bring back the soul of the holy prophet, how is it possible to see rising from the earth Jesus Christ who is in heaven, whom the disciples saw being taken up, and they died because they would not deny him.

"And if you are unable to maintain this against them, tell them: However it may be, we are stronger than you, who committcd fornication and worshipped idols without being forced to. Do not yield to them in despair, my brethren, but cleave to Christ by repentance; for he is merciful in receiving you back as his children."

15.  After he had spoken to them and urged them to leave the prison, the temple verger Polemon came upon them with Theophilus, the general of the cavalry, a group of soldiers, and a huge crowd. And they told them: "Look, Euctemon, one of your leaders, offered sacrifice. So should you too be persuaded. Lepidus and Euctcmon are asking for you in the temple of Nemesis."

"It is proper", said Pionius, "that those who have been imprlsoned should await the arrival of thc proconsul. Why do you take on yourselves his task?"

They went off then very annoyed, and returned with soldiers and a crowd. Then the cavalry commander, Theophilus, told them deceptively, "The proconsul has sent word that you are to be transferred to Ephesus."

"Let the one whom he has sent come forward", said Pionius, "and take us there."

The cavalry commander said: "An imperial officer is worthy of respect! Whether you will or not, I am in charge!"

Then taking hold of Pionius he knotted a scarf around his neck so that he was practically choking, and handed him over to one of the soldiers. And so they came to the market-place, with Sabina and the others. Then, when they began to shout in a loud voice, "We are Christians", and throw themselves on the ground to avoid being dragged to the temple, six of the soldiers picked up Pionius and carried him head downwards, since they were unable otherwise to prevent him from butting them in the side with his knees and interfering with their arms and legs.

16.  They carried him shouting and threw him down in front of the altar beside which Euctcmon was still standing in an attitude of worship?

Lepidus said: "Pionius, why do you and your people not sacrifice?"

The group around Pionius said, "Because we are Christians."

"Which god do you worship?" asked Lepidus.

Pionius answered: "The God who made heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them" (Acts 4:24).

Lepidus said: "You mean, then, the one who was crucified?"

"Yes," said Pionius, "him whom God sent for the redemption of the world."

At this the officials gave a loud guffaw and Lepidus cursed Christ.

Pionius then cried aloud: "You should have respect for piety, honour justice, have a sense of sympathy, and live in accordance with your own laws. You punish us for being disobedient, and yet you yourselves are disobedient: you were ordered to punish us, not force us against our wills."

17.  At this a bystander named Rufinus, one of those who had a reputation for superiority in rhetoric, said to him: "Cease, Pionius; do not be a fool!"

And Pionius answered him: "Is this your rhetoric? Is this your literature? Even Socrates did not suffer thus from the Athenians. But now everyone is an Anytus and a Meletus. Were Socrates and Aristides and Anaxarchus and all the rest fools in your view because they practised philosophy and justice and courage?"

And Rufinus when he heard this merely kept quiet.

18.  There was a man there who was prominent in worldly honour and both he and Lepidus said, "Pionius, do not shout so."

"Then do not try to force me," he answered. "Light a fire and we shall climb upon it of our own accord,"

A man named Terentius shouted out from the crowd: "Do you know that this fellow has roused up the others so as not to sacrifice?"

Finally crowns were put on them, but they tore them apart and threw them away. The public servant stood holding the sacrificed meat. He did not however dare to approach anyone, but simply ate it in the sight of everyone. As they kept shouting, "We are Christians!" and since they could find nothing to do to them, they sent them back to prison, while the crowd mocked and beat them.

Someone said to Sabina: "Why could you not have died in your own native city?"

Sabina replied: "What is my native city? I am the sister of Pionius."

Terentins, who was at that time in charge of the gladiatorial hunting games, said to Asclepiades, "After your condemnation I shall ask for you to compete in single combat with my son."

Asclepiades answered: "You do not terrify me with this."

And in this way they were led back to prison. As Pionius was going in one of the soldiers clubbed him heavily on the head and so wounded him. Yet he said nothing. But the arms and the sides of the one who struck him were so swollen that the fellow could hardly breathe. They, however, entered the prison and gave glory to God that they had remained unharmed in the Name of Christ, and that neither the enemy nor the hypocritical Euctemon had got control over them; and they continued to strengthen one another with psalms and prayers.

Later it was said that Euctemon had decided to force our hand. He had brought a little lamb to the temple of Nemesis, and after it was roasted and he had eaten of it, he intended to bring all the rest back home. He had indeed become ridiculous because of his false oath, wearing his crown and swearing by the emperor' genius and the goddesses of Fate that he wasnot a Christian and that, unlike the rest, he would omit nothing that would manifest his denial.

19.  Later the proconsul came to Smyrna. Pionius was brought before him on the twelfth of March, and gave testimony with the minutes being taken down by secretaries. Seated before the tribunal the proconsul Quintillian put the question: "What is your name?"

"Pionius," was the answer.

"WilI you offer sacrifice?" the proconsul asked.

"No," he answered.

The proconsul asked: "What is the cult or the sect to which you belong?"

"The Catholic," he answered.

"What do you mean, the Catholic?" asked the proconsul.

"I am a presbyter", said Pionius, of "the Catholic Church."

"Are you one of their teachers?" asked the proconsul.

"Yes," answered Pionlns, "I was a teacher."

"You were a teacher of foolishness?" he asked.

"Of piety," was the answer.

"What sort of piety?" he asked.

He answered, "Piety towards God the Father who has made all things."

The proconsul said: "Offer sacrifice."

"No," he answered. "My prayers must be offered to God."

But he said: "We reverence all the gods, we reverence the heavens and all the gods that are in heaven. What then do you attend to the air? Then sacrifice to the air."

"I do not attend to the air", answered Pionius, "but to him who made the air, the heavens, and all that is in them."

The proconsul said: "Tell me, who did make them?"

Pionius answered: "I cannot tell you."

The proconsul said: "Surely it was the god, that is Zeus, who is in heaven; for he is the ruler of all the gods."

20.   As Pionius was silent, hanging in torture he was asked: "Will you sacrifice?"

"No," he answered.

Once more he was tortured by his fingernails and the question was put: "Change your mind. Why have you lost your senses?"

"I have not lost my senses," he answered; "rather I am afraid of the living God."

The proconsul said: "Many others have offered sacrifice, and they are now alive and of sound mind."

"I will not sacrifice," was the answer.

The proconsul said: "Under questioning reflect within yourself and change your mind."

"No," he answered.

"Why do you rush towards death?" he was asked.

"I am not rushing towards death", he answered, "but towards life."

Quintillian the proconsul said: "You accomplish very little hastening towards your death. For those who enlist to fight the beasts for a trifling bit of money despise death. You are merely one of those. Seeing you are eager for death, you shall be burnt alive."

The sentence was then read in Latin from a tablet: "Whereas Pionius has admitted that he is a Christian, we hereby sentence him to be burnt alive."

21.  Hastily he went to the amphitheatre because of the zeal of his faith, and he gladly removed his clothes as the prison-keeper stood by. Then reaIizing the holiness and dignity of his own body, he was filled with great joy; and looking up to heaven he gave thanks to God who had preserved him so; then he stretched himself out on the gibbet and allowed the soldier to hammer in the nails. When Pionius had been nailed down the public executioner said to him once again: "Change your mind and the nails will be taken out."

But he answered: "I felt that they are in to stay."

Then after a moment's reflection he said: "I am hurrying that I may awake all the more quickly, manifesting the resurrection from the dead."

And so they raised him up on the gibbet, and then afterwards a man named Metrodorus from the Marcionite sect. It happened that Pionius was on the right and Metrodorns was on the left, though both faced the east. After they brought the firewood and piled up the logs in a circle, Pionius shut his eyes so that the crowd thought that he was dead. But he was praying in secret, and when he came to the end of his prayer he opened his eyes. The flames were just beginning to rise as he pronounced his last Amen with a joyful countenance and said: "Lord, receive my soul. Then peacefully and painlessly as though belching he breathed his last and gave his soul in trust to the Father, who has promised to protect all blood and every spirit that has been unjustly condemned.

22.  Such was the innocent, blameless, and incorruptible life which blessed Pionius brought to an end, with his mind ever fixed on almighty God and on Jesus Christ our Lord the mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5); of such an endbwas he deemed worthy. After his victory in the great combat he passed through the narrow gate into the broad, great light. Indeed his crown was made manifest through his body. For after the fire had been extinguished, those of us who were present saw his body like that of an athlete in full array at the height of his powers. His ears were not distorted; his hair lay in order on the surface of his head; and his beard was full as though with the first blossom of hair. His face shone once again--wondrous grace!--so that the Christians were all the more confirmed in the faith, and those who had lost the faith returned dismayed and with fearful consciences.

23.  This took place when Julius Proculus Quintillians4 was proconsul of Asia, under the consulship of the Emperor Gaius Messius Quintus Trajan Decius Augustus for the second time and Vettius Gratus, on the fourth day before the Ides of March according to the Roman calendar, and according to the Asiatic reckoning on the nineteenth day of the sixth month, Saturday, at the tenth hour, and in our reckoning under the kingship of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is glory for ever and ever. Amen.

An article of related interest may be Pionius of Smyrna.

Back to home page