Hieromartyr Antherus (Antheros) Pope of Rome

Saint Antherus was elected Bishop of Rome in place of St Pontian, and he too soon accepted suffering and death for Christ (+ 236). His successor was St Fabian, who as a presbyter fearlessly gave burial to the bodies of martyrs.

St Fabian loved St Pontius as though he were his own son. St Pontius distributed with St Fabian all his substance on the needs of the poor. After the death of the impious Maximian, the new emperor Gordian (238-244) did not persecute Christians. The emperor Philip (244-249), together with his son and co-regent Philip, was persuaded by the conversations and preaching of St Pontius to believe in Christ and to accept Baptism from St Fabian.

With the permission of the emperors, Sts Pontius and Fabian destroyed the statue of Jupiter in the pagan temple and built a church on this place. For four years the Church of Christ dwelt in peace and tranquility. Then Decius (249-251) ascended the throne, after organizing a rebellion and murdering the emperor Philip and his son.

And during this time St Fabian, Bishop of Rome (+ 250), accepted death for Christ. St Pontius left Rome for the city of Cimelum (on the border of Italy and Gaul) and lived there as a stranger. During the time of the emperor Valerian (253-259), cruel torturers were sent out with full authority to seek out and kill Christians. Thus Claudius and Anubius arrived in the city of Cimelum for this purpose.

St Pontius fearlessly confessed himself a Christian and refused to offer sacrifice to idols. They shackled him in irons and threw him in prison. From the very beginning of the torture the saint calmly admonished the torturers, saying that the Lord would bring the tortureto naught, and they would see the power of God. As soon as the servants attempted to tie St Pontius to the rack, it fell to pieces, and the torturers fell on the ground as though dead.

“Be convinced, O man of little faith, of the power of my Lord,” said St Pontius to Claudius, but on the advice of Anubius he gave St Pontius over to be eaten by two bears in the circus. The wild beasts, while not touching the saint, fell instead upon their keepers and mauled them. The spectators began to shout: “The only God is the Christian God, in Whom Pontius believes.” By order of the torturers a fire was built, but it burned out and the saint remained alive. Not even his clothes were burnt. The crowd shouted all the more strongly: “Great is the God of the Christians!” St Pontius then was sentenced to beheading by the sword, and his execution took place in the year 257. The body of St Pontius was given burial by his friend Valerian.