Saint of the Day – 11 July – Saint Pope Pius I (Died c 154) The ninth successor of St Peter, there is doubt about whether or not he was a Martyr. Papal Ascension c 142. Born at Aquileia, Italy and died in Rome. The Roman Martyrology states of him today: “At Rome, the blessed Pius, Pope and Martyr, who was crowned with Martyrdom in the persecutionof Marcus Aurelius.”
Pius is believed to have been born at Aquileia, in Northern Italy, during the late 1st century. His father was an Italian called “Rufinus,” who was also a native of Aquileia according to the Liber Pontificalis. According to the 2nd-century Muratorian Canon and the Liberian Catalogue,he was the brother of Hermas, author of the text known as The Shepherd of Hermas. The writer of the later text identifies himself as a former slave. This has led to speculation that both Hermas and Pius were freedmen. However, Hermas’ statement that he was a slave may just mean that he belonged to a low-ranking plebeian family.
According to Catholic tradition, Pius I governed the Church in the middle of the 2nd century during the reigns of the Emperors Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is held to be the ninth successor of Saint Peter. Although credited with ordering the publication of the Liber Pontificalis, compilation of that document was not started before the beginning of the 6th century. He is also said to have built one of the oldest Churches in Rome, Santa Pudenziana.
Saint Justin taught Christian doctrine in Rome during the pontificate of St Pius I but the account of St Justin’s Martyrdom, indicates there was no Roman Bishop present in Rome at the time, an unsurprising occurrence, considering the brevity of the account. The heretics Valentinus, Cerdon and Marcion visited Rome during that period. Catholic apologists see this as an argument for the primacy of the Roman See during the 2nd century. Pope Pius I is believed to have opposed the Valentinians and Gnostics under Marcion, whom he excommunicated.