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From The Lives of the Popes from the Time of our Saviour Jesus Christ to the Accession of Gregory VII. Written Originally in Latin by B. Platina, Native of Cremona, and translated into English (from an anonymous translation, first printed in 1685 by Sir Paul Rycaut), Edited by William Benham, Volume I, London: Griffith, Farran, Okeden & Welsh, [1888, undated in text]; pp. 27-29.

The Lives of the Popes,
B. Platina

Volume I.

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A.D. 143-157.

PIUS, an Italian of Aquileia, son of Ruffinus, lived to the time of M. Antoninus Verus, who, together with his brother, L. Aurelius Commodus, jointly exercised the Government nineteen years.

These two princes undertook a war against the Parthians, and managed it with such admirable courage and success, that they had the honour of a triumph decreed to them. But not long after Commodus dying of an apoplexy, Antoninus was sole emperor; a person who so excelled in all good qualities, that it is more easy to admire than to describe him; for both because from his very youth no change of his fortune made any alteration in his mind or his countenance, and because it is hard to determine whether the sweetness of his 28 natural temper, or the knowledge he learnt from Cornelius Fronto, were more conspicuous in him; he deservedly gained the surname of Philosopher. And indeed (as Capitolinus tells us) he was often wont to use that saying of Plato, that then the world would be happy, when either philosophers were princes, or princes would be philosophers. He was so great a lover of learning, that even when he was emperor he would be present at the lectures of Apollonius the philosopher, and Sextus Plutarch’s nephew; and he set up the statue of his tutor Fronto in the Senate House as a testimony of the honour he had for him.

At this time Pius maintained a strict friendship and familiarity with Hermas, who wrote the book called “Pastor;” in which book he introduces an angel in the form of a shepherd, who commanded him to persuade all Christians to keep the feast of Easter on a Sunday, which Pius accordingly did. Moreover, he ordained that every convert from the Cerinthian heresy should at his reception be baptized. At the request of Praxedes, a devout woman, he dedicated a church at the baths of Novatus to her sister, St Pudentiana; to which he himself made several donations, oftentimes celebrated Mass in it, and built a font which he blessed and consecrated, and at which he baptized a great number of proselytes. He also appointed a punishment upon those who were negligent in handling the body and blood of Christ. If through the priest’s carelessness any of the cup had fallen upon the ground, he was to undergo a penance of forty days; if it fell upon the altar, of three days; if upon the altar-cloth, of four days; if upon any other cloth, of nine days. Whithersoever it fell, he was to lick it up if he could; if not, the board or stone to be washed or scraped, and what of it could be recovered thereby either burnt or laid up in the sacrarium. In his time, Apollinaris, bishop of Hierapolis in Asia, was much esteemed, who wrote an excellent apology for Christianity, and presented it to Antoninus the second. He wrote also against the Montanists,1 who, with their two fanatic prophetesses, Priscilla and Maximilla, pretended that the descent of the Holy Ghost was not upon the apostles, but upon themselves; an opinion which they had learned from their leader Montanus. At this time also, the learned Tatianus was in good reputation, 29 so long as he swerved not from the doctrine of his master, Justin Martyr; but afterwards being puffed up with a great conceit of himself, he became the author of a new heresy, which being propagated by one Severus, the followers of it were from him called Severians. They drank no wine, ate no flesh, rejected the old Testament, and believed not the Resurrection. Moreover, Philip, Bishop of Crete, now published an excellent book against Marcion and his followers, whose errors were the same with those of Cerdo. Musanus also wrote a book against the heretics called Encratitæ, or the Abstemious, who agreed in opinion with the Severians, looking upon the marriage rites as filthy and unclean, and condemning those meats which God hath given for the use of mankind. But to return to Pius, having at five Decembrian ordinations made nineteen presbyters, twenty-one deacons, ten bishops, he died, and was buried in the Vatican, near St Peter, July 11. He was in the chair thirteen years, four months, three days; and by his death the see was vacant thirteen days.


 1  This is wrong. The Montanists did not appear until some years after this pope’s death. — ED.

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Previous Pope:  10. St. Hyginus. 11. St. Pius I. Next Pope: 12. St. Anicetus.

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