Pothinus (died 177) Expires Under the Rigors of Prison

[ABOVE—Gate of cell where Pothinus was held, CHI archives.]

Pothinus was the elderly bishop of Lyons in 177. Seized with many of his church people, he was locked in a prison cell about the size of a wash machine. Here is an account from a contemporary letter, describing the abuse he suffered. He is remembered because of this suffering.

The blessed Pothinus, who had been entrusted with the bishopric of Lyons, was dragged to the judgment seat. He was more than 90 years of age, and very infirm, scarcely indeed able to breathe because of physical weakness; but he was strengthened by spiritual zeal through his earnest desire for martyrdom. Though his body was worn out by old age and disease, his life was preserved that Christ might triumph in it.

From Christ to Constantine; Trial and Testimony of the Early Church. The first three centuries were decisive for Christianity. The existence of the church was threatened by powerful opponents. These programs bring you close to the early believers.

Trial and Testimony of the Early Church

When he was brought by the soldiers to the tribunal, accompanied by the civil magistrates and a multitude who shouted against him in every manner as if he were Christ himself, he bore noble witness.

Being asked by the governor, Who was the God of the Christians, he replied, “If you are worthy, you shall know.” Then he was dragged away harshly, and received blows of every kind. Those near him struck him with their hands and feet, regardless of his age; and those at a distance hurled at him whatever they could seize; all of them thinking that they would be guilty of great wickedness and impiety if any possible abuse were omitted. For thus they thought to avenge their own deities. Scarcely able to breathe, he was cast into prison and died after two days.