Pontius Pilate

Pontius Pilate

Provincia di Teramo, Abruzzo, Italy
Death unknown
Departement de la Vienne, Poitou-Charentes, France
Burial Body lost or destroyed
Memorial ID 107633698 · View Source
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Fifth Roman Governor of Judaea Under Emperor Tiberius. He is best remembered as the person who presided over the trial of Jesus in Jerusalem and authorized his crucifixion. Born Lucius Publius Pontius (the name "Pilate" was added later, probably for his military exploits), little is known of his life and what has been documented is found in the four gospels of the New Testament of the Bible and the Jewish historians Josephus and Philo of Alexandria. According to tradition, he was born in the village of Bisenti, located in the present-day Province of Teramo, in the Abruzzo region of Central Italy. He became a Roman knight of the Samnite clan of Ponti, and was a close friend of Lucius Aelius Sejanus, the leader of the Roman imperial bodyguard and favorite of Tiberius, and is believed that he became governor (or perfect) of Judaea in 26 A.D. through Sejanus' influence. He had entered public life not only for lofty reasons but to advance his own career and serve his own selfish purposes. While governor, he had a reputation among the Jews for being corrupt, tyrannical, and tempestuous, and was not above using murder to achieve his goals. He hung images of the Roman emperor throughout Jerusalem for the sake of worshipping but removed them when the Jews vigorously protested and he was unwilling to put the large number of protesters to death. He is also alleged to have appropriated sacred Jewish Temple treasure to construct an aqueduct in Jerusalem. In 31 A.D. Sejanus fell from his powerful position in Rome and he had to maintain a low profile in order to survive. In all the gospel accounts, he is reluctant to condemn Jesus to death having found no fault in him that deserved such a punishment, but is eventually forced to relent when the crowd that demanded his death became unruly and the Jewish leaders reminded him that Jesus' claim to be a king posed a challenge to Roman rule and to the Roman deification of Caesar. The Gospel of Matthew states that before condemning Jesus to die, he ceremoniously washed his hands in front of the crowd, symbolizing that he was not responsible for his death. According to Josephus, his rule as Judaea's governor came to an end in 36 A.D. after he sent a detachment of soldiers to prevent a group of Samaritans from looking for artifacts allegedly buried by Moses at Mount Greizim, killing some and taking others prisoner, of whom he executed the principal leaders and others who were influential in the attempted quest. The Samaritans then complained to Vitellius, the Roman Legate of Syria, who ordered him to return to Rome to answer to Emperor Tiberius on charges of oppression, cruelty, and executing people without proper trials. By the time he arrived at Rome, Tiberius had died and Caligula was the new emperor. There are conflicting stories on how he died and the final disposition of his body. One legend is that he committed suicide or was executed in Rome and his body was thrown first into the Tiber River, but the waters were so disturbed by evil spirits that his body was then taken to Vienne, France and sunk in the Rhone River. As the waters of the Rhone likewise rejected his corpse, it was removed again and sunk at Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. Another account (and probably more reliable) is that after his trial he was exiled to Gaul (now France) and eventually committed suicide there in Vienne around 37 or 38 A.D., presumably on the orders from Roman emperor Caligula, and his body was dumped into Lake Lucerne. Another legend says that after his death in Gaul, he was buried in a tomb at Vienne on the bank on the Rhone River, marked by the Roman monument "Plan de l'Aiguille," but there is no credible evidence that it is his actual burial location.

Bio by: William Bjornstad


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: William Bjornstad
  • Added: 1 Apr 2013
  • Find a Grave Memorial 107633698
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Pontius Pilate (unknown–unknown), Find a Grave Memorial no. 107633698, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Body lost or destroyed.