|Papacy began||21 July 230|
|Papacy ended||28 September 235|
Sardinia, Roman Empire
|Feast day||13 August|
Pope Pontian (Latin: Pontianus; died October 235), was the head of the Catholic Church from 21 July 230 to 28 September 235. In 235, during the persecution of Christians under the Emperor Maximinus the Thracian, Pontian was arrested and sent to the island of Sardinia. He resigned to make the election of a new pope possible.
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.
Pontian's pontificate was relatively peaceful under the reign of the Emperor Severus Alexander and noted for the condemnation of Origen by a Roman synod over which Pontian likely presided. The next emperor, Maximinus, however, overturned his predecessor's policy of toleration towards Christianity. Both Pope Pontian and the Antipope Hippolytus of Rome were arrested and exiled to labour in the mines of Sardinia, generally regarded as a death sentence.
As a consequence of his sentence, Pontian resigned as bishop on 28 September 235, in order to provide for an orderly transition in the Church of Rome. This brought a schism which had existed in the Roman Church for 18 years to an end. Neither Hippolytus nor Pontian survived, reconciling with one another there before their deaths. Pontian died in October 235.
Pope Fabian had the bodies of both Pontian and Hippolytus brought back to Rome in 236 or 237 and buried in the papal crypt in the Catacomb of Callixtus on the Appian Way. 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 "MARTUR" had been added in another hand.
- Kirsch, Johann Peter (1911). "Pope St. Pontian" in The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- G. W. Clarke, "Some Victims of the Persecution of Maximinus Thrax," Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, Bd. 15, H. 4 (Nov., 1966): pp. 445-453, p. 451.
- Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2000), 45.
- McBrien, Lives of the Popes, 45.
- Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 146
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|Catholic Church titles|
|Bishop of Rome