Saint Pothinus

Saint Pothinus (French: Saint Pothin) was the first bishop of Lyon and the first bishop of Gaul. He is first mentioned in a letter attributed to Irenaeus of Lyon. The letter was sent from the Christian communities of Lyon and Vienne to the Roman province of Asia.

Saint Pothinus
Vitrail de St-Pothin par Bégule.jpg
Stained glass window depicting Pothinus. Église Saint-Pothin, Lyon.
Martyr and Bishop of Lyon
Born~87 AD
Died~177 AD
Lyon, Gaul
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church Eastern Orthodox Church
Feast2 June


According to Irenaeus, Pothinus was born around the year 87,[1] probably at Smyrna. He was a disciple of Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, and accompanied him to Rome in 158.[2]

Pope Anicetus sent him to evangelize the Gauls. Pothinus established himself at Lyons, and founded there a flourishing Church, over which he presided for almost twenty years.[2] In asserting his own authority as bishop of Lyon, Irenaeus says that Pothinus had been his predecessor in the position, and the first holder of that office.

By 177, a large number of the Christians in the area of Vienne and Lyons were Greeks from Asia. A violent persecution was there against them while Pothinus was bishop of Lyons, and Irenæus, who had been sent there by Polycarp out of Asia, was a priest of that city.[3]

Pothinus died at the age of ninety, in about 177 AD, martyred along with Alexander, Attalus, Espagathus, Maturus, and Sanctius, during Persecution in Lyon during the tenure of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Pothinus and several companions were seized by a mob and taken to the magistrate; Pothinus is believed to have died from the abuse he suffered in prison, while the others were killed by wild beasts in the local amphitheater.

The similarity of the name Pothinus and the Old French verb foutre lead to syncretic amalgamation of Pothinus and Priapus,[4] under the assimilated name Saint Foutin.

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Catholic Church titles
New title Bishop of Lyon
2nd century
Succeeded by