Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume II: February. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Pionius, Priest and Martyr
HE was priest of Smyrna, a true heir of the spirit of St. Polycarp, an apostolic man, who converted multitudes to the faith. He excelled in eloquence, and in the science of our holy religion. The paleness of his countenance bespoke the austerity of his life. In the persecution of Decius, in 250, on the 23rd of February, he was apprehended with Sabina and Asclepiades, while they were celebrating the anniversary festival of St. Polycarps martyrdom. Pionius, after having fasted the eve with his companions, was forewarned thereof by a vision. On the morning after their solemn prayer, taking the holy bread (probably the eucharist) and water, they were surprised and seized by Polemon, the chief priest, and the guardian of the temple. In prolix interrogatories before him, they resisted all solicitations to sacrifice; professed they were ready to suffer the worst of torments and deaths rather than consent to his impious proposals, and declaring that they worshipped one only God, and that they were of the Catholic church. Asclepiades being asked what God he adored, made answer: Jesus Christ. At which Polemon said: Is that another God? Asclepiades replied: No: he is the same they have just now confessed. A clear confession of the consubstantiality of God the Son, before the council of Nice. Being all threatened to be burnt alive, Sabina smiled. The pagans said: Dost thou laugh? thou shalt then be led to the public stews. She answered: God will be my protector on that occasion. They were cast into prison, and preferred a low dungeon, that they might be more at liberty to pray, when alone. They were carried by force into the temple, and all manner of violence was used to compel them to sacrifice. Pionius tore the impious garlands which were put upon his head, and they resisted with all their might. Their constancy repaired the scandal given by Eudæmon, the bishop of Smyrna, there present, who had impiously apostatized and offered sacrifice. In the answers of St. Pionius to the judges, and in all the circumstances of his martyrdom, we admire the ardent piety and courage of one who had entirely devoted himself to God, and employed his whole life in his service. When Quintilian the proconsul arrived at Smyrna, he caused Pionius to be hung on the rack, and his body to be torn with iron hooks, and afterwards condemned him to be burned alive: he was accordingly nailed to a trunk or post, and a pile heaped round him and set on fire. Metrodorus, a Marcionite priest, underwent the same punishment with him. His acts were written by eye-witnesses, quoted by Eusebius, l. 4. c. 15. and are extant genuine in Ruinart, p. 12.See Tillemont, t. 3. p. 397. Bollandus, Feb. t. 1. p. 37.