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The End of Pilate

("Traditio Pilati")


And the writings having come to the city of the Romans, and having been read to the Caesar, with not a few standing by, all were astounded, because through the wickedness of Pilate the darkness and the earthquake had come over the whole world. And the Caesar, filled with rage, sent soldiers, and ordered them to bring Pilate a prisoner.

And when he was brought to the city of the Romans, the Caesar, hearing that Pilate had arrived, sat in the temple of the gods, in the presence of all the senate, and with all the army, and all the multitude of his power; and he ordered Pilate to stand forward. And the Caesar said to him: Why have you, O most impious, dared to do such things, having seen so great miracles in that man? By daring to do an evil deed, you have destroyed the whole world.

And Pilate said: O almighty king, I am innocent of these things; but the multitude of the Jews are violent and guilty. And the Caesar said: And who are they? Pilate said: Herod, Archelaus, Philip, Annas and Caiaphas, and all the multitude of the Jews. The Caesar said: For what reason did you follow out their counsel? And Pilate said: Their nation is rebellious and insubmissive, not submitting themselves to your power. And the Caesar said: When they delivered him to you, you ought to have made him secure, and to have sent him to me, and not to have obeyed them in crucifying such a man, righteous as he was, and one that did such good miracles, as you have said in your report. For from such miracles Jesus was manifestly the Christ, the King of the Jews.

And as the Caesar was saying this, when he named the name of Christ, all the multitude of the gods fell down in a body, and became as dust, where the Caesar was sitting with the senate. And the people standing beside the Caesar all began to tremble, on account of the speaking of the word, and the fall of their gods; and being seized with terror, they all went away, each to his own house, wondering at what had happened. And the Caesar ordered Pilate to be kept in security, in order that he might know the truth about Jesus.

And on the following day, the Caesar, sitting in the Capitol with all the senate, tried again to question Pilate. And the Caesar said: Tell the truth, O most impious, because through your impious action which you have perpetrated against Jesus, even here the doing of your wicked deeds has been shown by the gods having been cast down. Say, then, who is he that has been crucified; because even his name has destroyed all the gods? Pilate said: And indeed the records of him are true; for assuredly I myself was persuaded from his works that he was greater than all the gods whom we worship. And the Caesar said: For what reason, then, did you bring against him such audacity and such doings, if you were not ignorant of him, and altogether devising mischief against my kingdom? Pilate said: On account of the wickedness and rebellion of the lawless and wicked Jews, I did this.

And the Caesar, being filled with rage, held a council with all his senate and his power, and ordered a decree to be written against the Jews as follows: To Licianus, the governor of the chief places of the East, greeting. The reckless deed which has been done at the present time by the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the cities of the Jews round about, and their wicked action, has come to my knowledge, that they have forced Pilate to crucify a certain God named Jesus, and on account of this great fault of theirs the world has been darkened and dragged to destruction. Do you then speedily, with a multitude of soldiers, go to them there, and make them prisoners, in accordance with this decree. Be obedient, and take action against them, and scatter them, and make them slaves among all the nations; and having driven them out of the whole of Judaea, make them the smallest of nations, so that it may not any longer be seen at all, because they are full of wickedness.

And this decree having come into the region of the East, Licianus, obeying from fear of the decree, seized all the nation of the Jews; and those that were left in Judaea he scattered among the nations, and sold for slaves: so that it was known to the Caesar that these things had been done by Licianus against the Jews in the region of the East; and it pleased him. And again the Caesar set himself to question Pilate; and he orders a captain named Albius to cut off Pilate's head, saying: Just as he laid hands on the just man named Christ, in the same way also shall he fall, and not find safety.

And Pilate, going away to the place, prayed. In silence, saying: Lord, do not destroy me along with the wicked Hebrews, because I would not have laid hands on you, except for the nation of the lawless Jews, because they were exciting rebellion against me. But you know that I did it in ignorance. Do not then destroy me for this my sin; but remember not evil against me, O Lord, and against your servant Procla, who is standing with me in this the hour of my death, whom you did appoint to prophesy that you should be nailed to the cross. Do not condemn her also in my sin; but pardon us, and make us to be numbered in the portion of your righteous.

And behold, when Pilate had finished his prayer, there came a voice out of the heaven, saying: All the generations and families of the nations shall count you blessed, because under you have been fulfilled all those things said about me by the prophets; and you yourself shall be seen as my witness at my second appearing, when I shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel, and those that have not owned my name. And the prefect struck off the head of Pilate; and behold, an angel of the Lord received it. And his wife Procla, seeing the angel coming and receiving his head, being filled with joy herself also, immediately gave up the ghost, and was buried along with her husband.

And when Tiberius Caesar, the emperor of the Romans, was labouring under a grievous disease, and understanding that there was at Jerusalem a certain physician, Jesus by name, who by a single word cured all infirmities, he, not knowing that the Jews and Pilate had put him to death, ordered a certain friend of his named Volusianus: Go as quickly as possible across the seas; and you shall tell Pilate, my servant and friend, to send me this physician, that he may restore me to my former health. And this Volusianus, having heard the emperor's command, immediately departed, and came to Pilate, as he had been commanded. And he related to the same Pilate what had been entrusted to him by Tiberius Caesar, saying: Tiberius Caesar, the emperor of the Romans, your master, having heard that in this city there is a physician who by his word alone heals infirmities, begs you earnestly to send him to him for the curing of his weakness. Pilate, hearing this, was very much afraid, knowing that through envy he had caused him to be put to death. Pilate answered the same messenger thus, saying: This man was a malefactor, and a man who drew to himself all the people; so a council of the wise men of the city was held, and I caused him to be crucified. And this messenger returning to his inn, met a certain woman named Veronica, who had been a friend of Jesus; and he said: O woman, a certain physician who was in this city, who cured the sick by a word alone, why have the Jews put him to death? And she began to weep, saying: Dear grief! my Lord, my God and my Lord, whom Pilate for envy delivered, condemned, and ordered to be crucified. Then he, being exceedingly grieved, said: I am vehemently grieved that I am unable to accomplish that for which my Lord had sent me. And Veronica said to him: When my Lord was going about preaching, and I, much against my will, was deprived of his presence, I wished his picture to be painted for me, in order that, while I was deprived of his presence, the figure of his picture might at least afford me consolation. And when I was carrying the canvas to the painter to be painted, my Lord met me, and asked where I was going. And when I had disclosed to him the cause of my journey, he asked of me the cloth, and gave it back to me impressed with the image of his venerable face. Therefore, if your Lord will devoutly gaze on his face, he shall obtain immediately the benefit of health. And he said to her: Is a picture of such a sort procurable by gold or silver? She said to him: No; but by the pious influence of devotion. I shall therefore set out with you, and shall carry the picture to be seen by Caesar, and shall come back again. Volusianus therefore came with Veronica to Rome, and said to Tiberius the emperor: Jesus, whom you have been longing for, Pilate and the Jews have delivered to an unjust death, and have through envy affixed to the gibbet of the cross. There has therefore come with me a certain matron, bringing a picture of Jesus himself; and if you will devoutly look on it, you shall immediately obtain the benefit of your health. Caesar therefore ordered the way to be strewn with silk cloths, and the picture to be presented to him; and as soon as he had looked on it, he regained his former health. Pontius Pilate, therefore, by the command of Caesar, is taken and brought through to Rome. Caesar. Hearing that Pilate had arrived at Rome, was filled with exceeding fury against him, and caused him to be brought to him. But Pilate brought down with him the seamless tunic of Jesus; and he wore it on him in presence of the emperor. And as soon as the emperor saw him, he laid aside all his anger, and immediately rose up to meet him. Nor was he able to speak harshly to him in anything; and he who seemed so terrible and fierce in his absence, now in his presence is somehow found to be mild. And when he had sent him away, immediately he blazed out against him terribly, crying out that he was a wretch, inasmuch as he had not at all shown him the fury of his heart. And immediately he made him be called back, swearing and declaring that he was the son of death, and that it was infamous that he should live on the earth. And as soon as he saw him, he immediately saluted him, and threw away all the ferocity of his mind. All wondered; and he himself wondered that he should thus blaze out against Pilate when he was absent, and that while he was present he could say nothing to him roughly. Then, by a divine impulse, or perhaps by the advice of some Christian, he caused him to be stripped of that tunic, and immediately resumed against him his former ferocity of mind. And when at this the emperor wondered very much, it was told him that that tunic had belonged to the Lord Jesus. Then the emperor ordered him to be kept in prison, until he should deliberate in a council of the wise men what ought to be done with him. And a few days after, sentence was therefore passed on Pilate, that he should be condemned to the most disgraceful death. Pilate, hearing this, killed himself with his own knife, and by such a death ended his life.

When Caesar knew of the death of Pilate, he said: Truly he has died by a most disgraceful death, whom his own hand has not spared. He is therefore bound to a great mass, and sunk into the river Tiber. But malignant and filthy spirits in his malignant and filthy body, all rejoicing together, kept moving themselves in the waters, and in a terrible manner brought lightnings and tempests, thunders and hail-storms, in the air, so that all men were kept in horrible fear. Therefore the Romans, drawing him out of the river Tiber, in derision carried him down to Vienna, and sunk him in the river Rhone. For Vienna is called, so to speak, Via Gehennoe, the way of Gehenna, because it was then a place of cursing. But there evil spirits were present, working the same things in the same place. Those men therefore, not enduring such a visitation of demons, removed from themselves that vessel of malediction, and sent him to be buried in the territory of Losania. And they, seeing that they were troubled by the aforesaid visitations, removed him from themselves, and sunk him in a certain pit surrounded by mountains, where to this day, according to the account of some, certain diabolical machinations are said to bubble up.