Pontitianus, a soldier
Pontitianus, a soldier, perhaps of the praetorian guard, an African
by birth and a Christian, who indirectly contributed much towards the conversion
of St. Augustine, who relates in his Confessions how one day, while he
was at Milan with Alypius, Pontitianus came, as it seemed by accident, to visit
his countrymen, and found on the table a book containing the writings of St.
Paul, and having expressed some surprise, informed the friends that he was a
Christian and constantly prayed to God both in public worship and at home. The
conversation then turned upon Anthony the Egyptian monk, of whose history Pontitianus
knew much more than they did. He told them how, when he was at Trèves, in attendance
on the emperor, with three comrades he went to the public gardens. Having separated,
two of them met again at the dwelling of a recluse, and found there an account
of St. Anthony, which one read to the other until he was stirred to relinquish
his military life and enlist in the service of God as a monk, and prevailed
on his companion to join him. Pontitianus and the fourth member of the party
coming up, the other two endeavoured to persuade them to follow their example,
but without success. They returned to the palace while the disciples of St.
Anthony remained behind. We hear no more of Pontitianus; for the sequel see
Conf. viii. 6, 7).