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E01095: The Latin Martyrdom of *Pullio of Ciballae, of the late 4th c., recounts the martyrdom of Pullio (S00694), a chief lector (primicerius lectorum) from Cibalae in Pannonia (now Vinkovci, Croatia). It also mentions the martyrdoms of presbyter *Montanus of Singidunum (S00695), bishop *Irenaeus of Sirmium (S00696), deacon *Demetrius of Sirmium (S00697), and bishop Eusebius of *Cibalae (S00698). Composed in Pannonia (on the middle Danube).

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posted on 2016-01-26, 00:00 authored by erizos
Martyrdom of Pullio of Ciballae (BHL 6869)

I. Diocletianus et Maximianus regnantes decreuerunt ut, immissa persecutione, omnes christianos aut delerent aut a fide facerent deuiare. 2. Quo tempore haec praeceptio cum uenisset ad Sirmiensium ciuitatem, Probus praeses imperatae sibi persecutionis a clericis sumpsit exordium; et comprehensum sanctum Montanum, presbyterum ecclesiae Singidunensis diuque christianae fidei uiribus conluctantem, misit in fluuium. 3. Episcopum quoque Irenaeum Sirmiensis ecclesiae pro fide et commissae sibi plebis constantia fortiter dimicantem ad caelestem palmam simili sententia cognitor prouexit immitis. 4. Etiam sanctum Demetrium, eiusdem ecclesiae diaconum, renuntiantem idolis et impia praecepta contempnentem, uario tormentorum genere confectum temporali morti tradidit in aeternitate uicturum.

II. Sed, cum in his eius satiata crudelitas non fuisset, uicinas peragrandas esse credidit ciuitates. 2. Et cum sub specie publicae necessitatis ad urbem Cibalitanam peruenisset, de qua Valentinianus, christianissimus imperator, oriundus esse cognoscitur et in qua superiori persecutione Eusebius, eiusdem ecclesiae uenerandus antistes, moriendo pro Christi nomine de morte et de diabolo noscitur triumphasse, 3. contigit Domini misericordia prouidente ut eodem die comprehensus Pullio, primicerius lectorum, fidei ardore notissimus, a ministris crudelitatis ipsius offerretur examini dicentibus:“Hic in tantam prorupit superbiam ut non cesset deos et principes blasphemare”

‘During their reign, Diocletian and Maximian ordered that a persecution be started and that they should either kill all Christians or make them depart from the faith. In that time, when this decree reached the city of Sirmium, Probus the governor began the persecution ordered to him from the clerics. And he arrested Montanus, presbyter of the church of Singidunum, who had fought for a long time by the power of the Christian faith, and threw him into the river. Also bishop Irenaeus of the Church of Sirmium, who struggled strongly for the faith and for the sake of the people entrusted to him, the bitter man sent him to heavenly victory by a similar sentence. Also Saint Demetrius, deacon of the same church, who renounced the idols and contempted the impious decrees, he treated him with various kinds of torments, and delivered him to a temporary death, so that he may gain victory in eternity.

But, as his cruelty was not satisfied by these things, he thought that he should search the neighbouring cities as well. And, when he reached the city of Cibalae on the occasion of some state business (the most Christian emperor Valentinian is known to have hailed from that city, and also Eusebius, the venerable prelate of the same church, is known to have triumphed over death and devil by his death for the name of Christ during an earlier persecution there), it happened by the providence of the mercy of the Lord, that Pullio, a chief lector (primicerius lectorum), famous for the ardour of his faith, was arrested and brought to trial on the same day by ministers of the same cruelty, who said: ‘This man has reached such a level of arrogance that he does not respect the gods and offends the rulers.’

Probus asks Pullio about his name, his faith and office. Pullio confesses being a chief reader of the Christians. Probus mokes the Christian faith as foolishness, while Pullio replies that foolishness is the observance of pagan superstitions, and gives a brief explanation of the Christian faith in one God in Heaven, and of the moral teachings of Christianity. Probus threatens to kill him, but Pullio declares that eternal life is preferable to the temporary one. He refuses to sacrifice and invites Probus to do what he has been ordered to do. He is condemned to be burned alive.

V. Mox quoque raptus a ministris diaboli et ductus quasi miliario longe a ciuitate, agonem suum laudans et benedicens et glorificans Deum impleuit martyrium intrepidus. 2. Cuius uenerabilem passionem, sed et sancti episcopi eiusdem ciuitatis Eusebii qui ante plurimos annos eodem die uitam martyrii caelestem promouit ad gloriam, hodie cum gaudio celebrantes deprecemur diuinam potentiam ut nos eorum meritis participes esse dignetur. 3. Haec autem acta sunt in ciuitate Cibalitana die quinto kalendarum maiarum, sub Diocletiano et Maximiano imperatoribus, regnante Domino nostro Iesu Christo cui est honor et gloria in saecula saeculorum, amen.

'And immediately, he was seized by the servants of the Devil and taken about one mile away from the city, and he consummated without trembling his contest, the martyrdom, praising and blessing and glorifying God. As we happily celebrate today his venerable suffering, but also that of Eusebius, the holy bishop of the same city, who many years earlier, on the same day, raised his life to the heavenly glory of martyrdom, let us beseech the divine power to make us worthy of partaking in their merits. These things took place in the city of Cibalae, five days before the calends of May (26 April), under the emperors Diocletian and Maximian, and during the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.'

Text: Tamas 2012. Translation: Efthymios Rizos


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Pullio, martyred lector of Cibalae in Pannonia : S00694 Demetrius, martyred deacon of Sirmium : S00697 Irenaeus, martyred bishop of Sirmium : S00695 Montanus, presbyter of Singidunum, martyred in Sirmium : S00696 Eusebius, martyred bishop of Ciba

Saint Name in Source

Pullio Demetrius Irenaeus Montanus Eusebius

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Dalmatia, Pannonia and the Upper Danube Dalmatia, Pannonia and the Upper Danube

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Cibalae Sirmium

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Cibalae Epidauros Ἐπίδαυρος Epidauros Epidaurus Cavtat Sirmium Epidauros Ἐπίδαυρος Epidauros Epidaurus Cavtat

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Place of martyrdom of a saint

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts


The Martyrdom of Irenaeus of Sirmium (see E01662) and the Martyrdom of Pullio/Pollio of Cibalae (also known as Passio Pollionis) are the only two pieces to survive more or less intact from the early hagiography of Sirmium and its region (Pannonia Savia). They were most probably written in the last quarter of the 4th century. The Martyrdom of Pullio/Pollio is preserved in thirteen manuscripts, ranging from the 11th to the 15th century. A critical edition with commentary was published by Hajnalka Tamas in 2012.


Delehaye categorised this text among passiones based on an authentic trial document or an eye-witness account, reckoning that the description of the trial is a reliable testimony to the actual event, mainly due to the generally restraint and simple narrative, and the absence of extravagant miracle descriptions. Yet the thematic and structural coherence of Pullio’s answers to the praeses suggests that the text was a literary product rather than the transcript of an impromptu apology at court. The text must have been produced between the reign of the emperor Valentinian I (364-375; a native of Cibalae, mentioned in the text), and before the Hunnic conquest of Pannonia in the 440s. The epithet christianissimus imperator attributed to Valentinian supports a date after 380. A terminus ante quem can be inferred from the Passio Donati, Venusti et Hermogenis (BHL 2309; ed. J. Pinius in AASS August 4, p. 412-413; see E00) (dated c. 409/10 or 405/6) which mentions Pullio and follows the same narrative structure and even quotes from our text. A church dedicated to Pullio was built in Ravenna probably before AD 400 (Agnellus, Lib. pont. 22), suggesting that his cult and hagiography were fully developed, and exported beyond Pannonia before the turn of the 5th century. The late 4th-century date seems to be confirmed also by the name of the persecutor, Probus, who appears also in other hagiographic works of Sirmian origin, namely the Passiones of Irenaeus of Sirmium (BHL 4466, see E01662) and Anastasia (BHL 400-401). It is thought that the name was inspired from Sextus Claudius Petronius Probus (flor. 358-390; PLRE 1 [1971], p. 736–740), who served as Praetorian Prefect of Illyricum in 364. Probus was accused for the woes of Pannonia in that period, and it is possible that his name was deliberately used by the hagiographer in the role of the persecutor as a peculiar damnatio memoriae. The introductory paragraph is a passage of major interest for the history of Pannonian hagiography, since it suggests that the literature on the Sirmian clerical martyrs consisted of at least four closely interrelated texts, perhaps published as a unified corpus: the passiones of the presbyter *Montanus of Singidunum, bishop *Irenaeus of Sirmium, deacon *Demetrius of Sirmium, and lector *Pullio of Cibalae. Only two of the passiones of this corpus have survived: the passio of Irenaeus of Sirmium (see E01662), and our text. The setting for all these stories is the persecution of 304, while the figure interrogating and condemning the saints is the already mentioned Probus. All the martyrs are executed in Sirmium by drowning in the river Sava, except for Demetrius, whose execution is not described, and Pullio who was burnt alive in Cibalae. The Martyrologium Hieronymianum shows that all these martyrs were celebrated in late March and April: Montanus on 26 March, Irenaeus on 6 April, Demetrius on 9 April, and Pullio/Pollio with Eusebius on 26 April. Our text suggests that the festival of Pullio/Pollio was conflated with the celebration of an earlier martyr, the bishop *Eusebius. References to his figure are found in the second and the last paragraphs of our text. The reference to Eusebius in the last paragraph suggests that there was no passio for him. The only information known about him is that he had been a bishop who suffered martyrdom during an earlier persecution. The precise date of his death had apparently been forgotten, and his festival was attached to that of Pullio/Pollio. The Passio of Pullio/Pollio was apparently the only hagiographic reading used on the day.


Text and commentary: Tamas, H. (2012). Passio Pollionis (BHL 6869): Introduction, Critical Text and Notes. Sacris Erudiri, 51, 9-34. Further reading: Petrović, I. (2006). L’hagiographie, latine et vernaculaire, de l’espace Croate, des origines à 1350. In G. Philippart (Ed.), Corpus Christianorum : Hagiographies (Vol. IV, pp. 183-272, esp. 218-220). Turnhout: Brepols.

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