The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings
by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
|The Message of Pilate's Wife (1886–94) by James Tissot|
Pilate's wife, Claudia Procla, was born at Narbon, France, then called Gaul, of the famous noble or patrician Claudian family, which gave two emperors and famous men to Rome. Her near relative was the then reigning emperor, Tiberius Claudius Nero Caesar, born at Lyons, France, Nov. 16, B. C. 42, and who died, March 16, A. D. 37. From the same family sprung later Marcus Aurelius Claudius Gothicus, born A. D. 214, died 270.
Tiberius was a literary character, and wrote a history of Rome down to the battle of Actium, in forty-one Books, and a history of Etruria in twenty books. When the emperor Tiberius removed Valerius Gratus from the office of governor of Judea, in the twelfth year of his reign, and twenty-five years after the birth of Christ, because of his wife's near relationship he nominated Pilate to the vacant office. Pilate was the sixth Roman governor appointed since the fall of Herod Archelaus.
Claudia had lived for a time in Rome where the Jews made many converts from paganism, whom they called " Proselytes of the Gate." But they would not allow them the same privileges as those born Jews. Juvenal and Horace tell us that the famous Fluvia converted Poppea. Nero's wife, and that noble families as well as plebeians had embraced Judaism.
The Jews of Rome congregated around the Transtevere, where they had a synagogue, and there Claudia Procla had been received, worshiped Jehovah and studied the sacred books of the Old Testament. After coming to Jerusalem she studied still deeper the prophecies relating to the expected Messiah. She had heard John the Baptist preach, heard of Christ's wonderful works, and believed him to be the long looked for Messiah.
The Roman laws forbade procurators and governors to take their wives with them when sent to rule conquered peoples. But long before the time of Pilate these laws had fallen into disuse, as Tacitus records, 1 and many at tempts to enforce these regulations had failed, because wives would secretly follow their husbands, hence Claudia went with Pilate her husband to Jerusalem.
Later, Claudia became a Christian. We find no record of the time of her conversion, except that she left the palace after the crucifixion, and joined Christ's little band of disciples. Perhaps she is the Claudia mentioned by St. Paul. 2 But some writers think this Claudia was the wife of senator Pudens, the noble Roman whom St. Peter con verted with his family, and who gave the Prince of the Apostles his senatorial chair, still preserved in the apse of St. Peter's Church, now covered with beautiful bronze work, and upheld by colossal figures of the four great Doctors of the Church, Sts. Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome and Chrysostom.
The Greek Church long ago canonized Pilate's wife, and venerate her as a saint, celebrating her feast each year, Oct. 27th.
After taking the city David fortified the high rock to the northwest of the Temple area. The Machabees enlarged the fortress as a protection to the Temple, calling it" The Baris " from the Persian word Birah : " a strong castle." Herod built a great entrance to this castle-palace, calling it the Atrium, which the Romans named the Forum in memory of their famus Forum of Rome. The floor of this open space was paved with the yellowish white stones of Judea. The three sides of this great space opened to the sky, were flanked with arches and pillars. To the east, one side of this Forum was closed by Pilate's private residence. 3
The second Roman legion had been sent to Judea, and at the time of the crucifixion they occupied this palace-fortress of Antonia. The Roman army was divided into legions, and each legion was subdivided into cohorts, and these into maniples. Over each was an officer. Each division had its standard or flag, to which the soldiers offered prayers and incense. At the head of the legion was a figure of an eagle, the emblem of the conquering hosts. The legion was commanded by a general, the cohort by a tribune, and the maniple by a centurion because he had a hundred men in the company under him.
1 An. III. 33.
2 2. Tim iv. 21.
3 The high priest John Hyrcanus enlarged the palace rebuilt on the Baris rock, and lived In it, where he kept the pontifical vestments. (Josephus, Antiq., B. xviii., C. iv., 3.