Pius I, Pope, St.
PIUS I, POPE, ST.
Pontificate: 142 or 146 to 157 or 161. According to Eusebius (Chron.; Hist. 4.11; 5.6, 24) Pius I reigned for fifteen years. Both Eusebius and Jerome placed his accession in the fifth year of Antoninus Pius (142). Although the Liberian and Felician catalogues make Pius the successor of Anicetus, he was his predecessor according to Irenaeus, Hegesippus, and Eusebius, who list him after Hyginus. (see popes, list of.) The fourth century liberian catalogue reports that he was an Italian from Aquileia, the son of a Rufinus. Like the second-century muratorian canon, the catalogue records that he was the brother of hermas, author of the Shepherd, which was apparently written during Pius's episcopacy. Hermas's statement that he had been sold into slavery may suggest that the family was of plebeian origin. It also might explain why Hermas is a Greek name and Pius is a Latin one—slave owners were free to give slaves the names they (the owners) wished.
His attitude toward penance may be reflected in the theories exposed in the Shepherd. There is an indication that he excommunicated marcion, the pupil of Cerdo, in 144, thus opposing a semi-Gnostic dualism and a stringent Paulinism that would deprive humans of their integrity as agents of their own salvation by making them helpless wards of an overpoweringly merciful Redeemer. The gnosticism of valentinus is said to have made great headway at this time. Along with the Gnostics came such famous scholars as hegesippus, justin martyr of Palestine, polycarp of Smyrna, and irenaeus of Lyons. These visitors testify to the existence of an influential episcopate in Rome as well as the city's growing significance as a major Christian intellectual center. ado of vienne was the first to include Pius in the martyrology. Modern excavations indicate that his supposed burial place next to Peter in the Vatican is without substantiation.
Feast: July 11.
Bibliography: j. quasten, Patrology (Westminster, 1950–) 1:92–105, 268–272. É. amann, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., (Paris 1903—50) 12.2:1612–13. g. schwaiger, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiberg 1957–65) 8:528. j. n. d. kelly, Oxford Dictonary of Popes (New York 1986) 25–26. a. kirkland, "The Literary History of the Shepherd of Hermas, Vision I to IV, Second Century." A Journal of Early Christian Studies (Abilene, TX 1992) 87–102.
[e. g. weltin]