Martyr à Smyrne (✝ 250)
Il périt sur le bûcher avec quinze compagnons, arrêtés lors de célébration du martyre de saint Polycarpe.
À Smyrne en Asie, vers l’an 250, saint Pione, prêtre et martyr. On dit que pour avoir fait une apologie de la foi chrétienne devant le peuple, il fut jeté dans une prison infecte, où il encouragea par ses exhortations un grand nombre de frères à supporter le martyre, et que lui-même, soumis à des tourments, reçut en partage, à travers le bûcher, une fin bienheureuse pour le Christ.
Martyred at Smyrna, 12 March, 250. Pionius, with Sabina and Asclepiades, was arrested on 23 February, the anniversary of St. Polycarp's martyrdom. They had passed the previous night in prayer and fasting. Knowing of his impending arrest, Pionius had fastened fetters round the necks of himself and his companions to signify that they were already condemned. People seeing them led off unbound might suppose that they were prepared, like so many other Christians in Smyrna, the bishop included, to sacrifice. Early in the morning, after they had partaken of the Holy Bread and of water, they were conducted to the forum. The place was thronged with Greeks and Jews, for it was a great Sabbath and therefore a general holiday in the city — an indication of the importance of the Jews in Smyrna. Pionius harangued the multitude. He begged the Greeks to remember what Homer had said about not mocking the corpse of an enemy. Let them refrain therefore from mocking those Christians who had apostatized. He then turned to the Jews and quoted Moses and Solomon to the same effect. He ended with a vehement refusal to offer sacrifice. Then followed the usual interrogatories and threats, after which Pionius and his companions were relegated to prison, to await the arrival of the proconsul. Here they found other confessors, among them a Montanist. Many pagans visited them, and Christians who had sacrificed, lamenting their fall. The latter Pionius exhorted to repentance. A further attempt before the arrival of the proconsul was made to force Pionius and his companions into an act of apostasy. They were carried off to a temple where every effort was made to compel them to participate in a sacrifice. On 12 March, Pionius was brought before the proconsul who first tried persuasion and then torture. Both having failed, Pionius was condemned to be burnt alive. He suffered in company with Metrodorus, a Marcionite priest. His feast is kept by the Latins on 1 Feb.; by the Greeks on 11 March. The true day of his martyrdom, according to the Acts, was 12 March. Eusebius (Church History; "Chron.", p. 17, ed. Schoene) places the martyrdom in the reign of Antoninus. His mistake was probably due to the fact that he found the martyrdom of Pionius in a volume containing the Acts of Martyrs of an earlier date. Possibly his manuscript lacked the chronological note in our present ones. For the life of Polycarp by Pionius, see SAINT POLYCARP. Did Pionius before his martyrdom celebrate with bread and water? We know from St. Cyprian (Ep. 63) that this abuse existed in his time. But note (1) the bread is spoken of as Holy, but not the water; (2) it is unlikely that Pionius would celebrate with only two persons present. It is more likely therefore that we have an account, not of a celebration, but of a private Communion (see Funk, "Abhandlungen", I, 287).
Transcription. Dedicated to the memory of Brother Declan Brown, L.C.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
Hieromartyr Pionius of Smyrna and those with himThe Hieromartyrs Pionius and Limnus, the Holy Martyrs Sabina, Macedonia, and Asclepiades suffered during the persecution of Christians in the reign of Decius (249-251). They suffered at Smyrna, a mercantile city on the eastern shores of the Aegean Sea. The Church in Smyrna was founded by the holy Apostle John the Theologian (May 8 and September 26), and was made glorious by its martyrs and confessors.
St Pionius knew that he and his companions would be arrested on February 23, the anniversary of St Polycarp’s martyrdom, and a feastday for the Christians of Smyrna. The day before they were arrested, St Pionius entertained Asclepiades and Sabina in his house. Taking three lengths of woven chains, St Pionius placed them around his neck, and around the necks of the other two. He did this to show that they were all determined to be led off to prison rather than eat food sacrificed to idols.
The holy confessors were indeed arrested on February 23. After a brief interrogation they were dragged off by Polemon the verger in order to sacrifice to the idols and eat forbidden foods. They were brought to the forum, where a great crowd had gathered.
St Pionius addressed the people, chiding them for laughing and rejoicing at those Christians who had agreed to offer sacrifice. He quoted Homer to the pagans (Odyssey 22, 412) and said that it was shameful to gloat over those who were about to die. He reminded the Jews in the audience of the words of Solomon: “If your enemy falls, do not rejoice over him, and do not be glad when he stumbles” (Proverbs 24:17).
Polemon attempted once again to persuade Pionius to obey the law and offer sacrifice to the idols.
“If only I could persuade you to become Christians,” he replied.
The men laughed at him, saying that he did not have the power to do that, because they knew they would be burned alive if they converted.
St Pionius said, “It is far worse to burn after death.”
St Sabina laughed when she heard this. Then Polemon threatened to put her in a brothel, but she said she believed that God would protect her.
Under questioning, St Pionius stated repeatedly that he was a Christian, and could not sacrifice to the emperor or to the idols.
Before Polemon came to Sabina to question her, St Pionus told her to say that her name was Theodote. This he did so that she would not be returned to her former mistress Politta, an immoral woman. In an effort to turn her from Christ, Politta bound St Sabina and cast her out on the mountains. She was secretly helped by the brethren, and hid in St Pionus’s house most of the time. That is how she came to be arrested.
Sts Sabina and Asclepiades were questioned, and they said they were Christians who worshiped Jesus Christ. Then they were thrown into jail.
In prison St Pionius and his companions met Limnus, a priest of the Church of Smyrna, and his wife Macedonia from the village of Karine. They had also been imprisoned for confessing Christ.
Many believers visited the holy confessors in prison, offering them whatever they could, but the saints did not accept it. The jailers were angry, because they used to keep a portion of the gifts given to prisoners for themselves.
The holy martyrs were brought to the marketplace, and were urged to offer sacrifice. When they refused, they were taken back to prison. On the way, they were beaten and mocked by the crowd. Someone said to St Sabina, “Why couldn’t you have died in your own city?”
St Sabina retorted, “What is my native city?”
Terentius, who was in charge of the gladiatorial games, said to Asclepiades, “After you are condemned, I shall ask that you compete in the games given by my son.”
“That does not scare me,” he said.
After many torments, the holy martyr was brought to the amphitheatre on March 11, 250. Since he still refused to offer sacrifice to the idols, St Pionius was sentenced to be burned alive. He was nailed to a cross, then they stacked wood around him and lit the fire. When the fire subsided, everyone saw the body of the saint was unharmed. Not even the hairs of his head had been singed. His face was radiant, and shone with divine grace. After his victory in the contest, St Pionius received an incorruptible crown of glory from the Savior Christ.
St Pionius transcribed the Martyrdom of St Polycarp of Smyrna (February 23) from an older copy made by Isocrates (or Socrates) in Corinth. This document in turn was transcribed from an earlier manuscript written by Gaius, and was based on the recollections of St Irenaeus of Lyons (August 23), who knew St Polycarp. St Polycarp appeared to Pionius in a vision, telling him to search for the text of Isocrates. St Pionius collected the material which was nearly worn out with age, thus preserving the account for later generations. Now St Pionius rejoices in the heavenly Kingdom, glorifying the Life-Creating Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, throughout all ages.