Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea who condemned Jesus to death, eternally hovers somewhere between innocent-at-large, cornered in a no-win situation by the wily citizens of Jerusalem, and villain. But in some Christian churches, Pilate, and his wife, Claudia Procula, are revered as saints.
PAT POLAND considers the elusive figure who washed his hands of Christ.
According to the New Testament, when Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor of Judaea, He summarized His mission in the following terms: “I came into the world…to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.”
“What is truth?” (Quid est veritas?) said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer, we are told, thus consigning countless Christians to two millennia of frustrating speculation.
But just who was Pontius Pilate? We know that Pilate’s chief claim to fame is his role during the final stages of Christ’s ministry on earth. He was, in fact, a minor figure, just one of many hundreds of Roman officials tasked by the emperor to administer his far-flung dominions.
Pilate lived from c.20 BC until sometime after 36 AD, and served as governor, or Praefectus, of the Roman province of Judaea from 26 AD to 36 AD. Depending on which source one tends to believe, he was born in either Italy, Spain, Germany, or Scotland.
For many centuries, the legend has persisted that Pilate was born in Fortingall, Perthshire, the son of a Roman envoy sent by Caesar Augustus to establish diplomatic relations with British chieftains and the important Caledonian chieftain, Metellanus.