|Who is it?||Presided Over the Trial of Jesus|
|Birth Place||Roman Italy, Italy, Ancient Roman|
|Died On||c. AD 36–39\nRoman Empire|
|Occupation||Roman governor of Judea|
With the Edict of Milan in AD 313, the state-sponsored persecution of Christians came to an end, and Christianity became officially tolerated as one of the religions of the Roman Empire. Afterwards, in 325, the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea promulgated a creed which was amended at the subsequent First Council of Constantinople in 381. The Nicene Creed incorporated for the first time the clause was crucified under Pontius Pilate (which had already been long established in the Old Roman Symbol, an ancient form of the Apostles' Creed dating as far back as the 2nd century AD) in a creed that was intended to be authoritative for all Christians in the Roman Empire.
Eusebius (325), although he mentions an Acta Pilati that had been referred to by Justin and Tertullian and other pseudo-Acts of this kind, shows no acquaintance with this work. Almost surely it is of later origin, and scholars agree in assigning it to the middle of the 4th century. Epiphanius refers to an Acta Pilati similar to this, as early as AD 376, but there are indications that the current Greek text, the earliest extant form, is a revision of an earlier one.
The only physical, archaeological evidence that confirms the existence of Pilate is the Latin inscription found on a limestone block relating Pilate's tribute to Tiberius. The artifact, sometimes known as the Pilate Stone, was discovered in 1961 by an archaeological team led by Antonio Frova. It was found as a reused block within a staircase located in a semicircular structure behind the stage house of the Roman theatre at Caesarea, the city that served as Rome's administrative centre in the province of Judaea. Roman governors were based in Caesarea and only visited Jerusalem on special occasions, or in times of unrest. The artifact is a fragment of the dedicatory inscriptions of a building, probably a temple, which was constructed, possibly in honour of the Emperor Tiberius, dating to 26–36 AD. The dedication states that Pilate was prefect of Judaea, read praefectus Iudaeae. The early governors of Judaea were of prefect rank, the later were of procurator rank, beginning with Cuspius Fadus in 44 AD. The artifact is currently housed in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, while a replica stands at Caesarea.
The Mors Pilati ("Death of Pilate") legend is a Latin tradition, thus treating Pilate as a Monster, not a saint; it is attached usually to the more sympathetic Gospel of Nicodemus of Greek origin. The narrative of the Mors Pilati set of manuscripts is set in motion by an illness of Tiberius, who sends Volusanius to Judaea to fetch the Christ for a cure. In Judaea Pilate covers for the fact that Christ has been crucified, and asks for a delay. But Volusanius encounters Veronica who informs him of the truth but sends him back to Rome with her Veronica of Christ's face on her kerchief, which heals Tiberius. Tiberius then calls for Pontius Pilate, but when Pilate appears, he is wearing the seamless robe of the Christ and Tiberius' heart is softened, but only until Pilate is induced to doff the garment, whereupon he is treated to a ghastly execution. His body, when thrown into the Tiber, however, raises such storm demons that it is sent to Vienne (via gehennae) in France and thrown to the Rhone. That river's spirits reject it too, and the body is driven east into "Losania", where it is plunged in the bay of the lake near Lucerne, near Mont Pilatus – originally Mons Pileatus or "cloud-capped", as John Ruskin pointed out in Modern Painters – whence the uncorrupting corpse rises every Good Friday to sit on the bank and wash unavailing hands.
The procurators' and prefects' primary functions were military, but as representatives of the empire they were responsible for the collection of imperial taxes, and also had limited judicial functions. Other civil administration lay in the hands of local government: the municipal councils or ethnic governments such as—in the district of Judaea and Jerusalem—the Sanhedrin and its President the High Priest. But the power of appointment of the High Priest resided in the Roman legate of Syria or the prefect of Judaea in Pilate's day and until AD 41. For Example, Caiaphas was appointed High Priest of Herod's Temple by Prefect Valerius Gratus and deposed by Syrian Legate Lucius Vitellius. Normally, Pilate resided in Caesarea but traveled throughout the province, especially to Jerusalem, in the course of performing his duties. During the Passover, a festival of deep national as well as religious significance for the Jews, Pilate, as governor or prefect, would have been expected to be in Jerusalem to keep order. He would not ordinarily be visible to the throngs of worshippers because of the Jewish people's deep sensitivity to their status as a Roman province.
This text gained wide credit in the Middle Ages, and has considerably affected the legends surrounding the events of the crucifixion, which, taken together, are called the Passion. Its popularity is attested by the number of languages in which it exists, each of these being represented by two or more variant "editions": Greek (the original), Coptic, Armenian and Latin versions. The Latin versions were printed several times in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Equestrians such as Pilate could command legionary forces but only small ones, and so in military situations, he would have to yield to his superior, the legate of Syria, who would descend into Palestine with his legions as necessary. As governor of Judaea, Pilate would have small auxiliary forces of locally recruited Soldiers stationed regularly in Caesarea and Jerusalem, such as the Antonia Fortress, and temporarily anywhere else that might require a military presence. The total number of Soldiers at his disposal would have numbered about 3,000. As regards the death of Pontius Pilate, Eusebius of Caesarea’s Ecclesiastical History says that Pilate killed himself on orders from the Emperor Caligula in about 39 AD.