In the Abyssinian and Greek Orthodox Churches, the wife of Pontius Pilate is considered a saint. St. Claudia Procula’s feast day is October 27th. The basis of this canonization may be found in the Scriptures, in two places, the first being her famous dream in Matthew 27: 19, which she shared with her husband, as to the innocence of Christ. The early commentators of our Scripture note that Pilate knew that Christ was innocent, but Pilate caved in to popular opinion, careerism, and peer pressure. Eusebius, the great historian, writes that Pilate committed suicide under Caligula.
It is interesting that a wife can be a saint and not a husband, or a husband can be a saint and not a wife. We have this division in the life of St. Monica, whose husband did convert at the end of his life, but he did not reach the status of saint while he lived, which is the proof needed for canonization. In Timothy 4:2, a Claudia noted there could be Claudia Procula, although the name Claudia was a popular Roman name for women either of noble rank, or actually related to the emperor. That St. Paul refers to her by this aristocratic name may indicate the same person, known to many.
In The Passion of the Christ, Claudia is seen as not only sympathetic to Christ, but to Mary, in that amazing scene related to the Eucharist, when she gives Our Lady and Mary Magdalene white cloths to soak up the Sacred Blood of Christ left over from the Scourging. This is a reference to the Mass and to the Last Supper, which is the beginning of Christ’s Passion.
It is my humble opinion that Eusebius was correct regarding the self-destruction of Pilate, when the ex-governor failed under Caligula, and that the two Eastern Churches are correct in declaring and honoring St. Claudia Procula.
For those women who have pagan husbands, like St. Monica, suffering is inevitable, and St. Claudia may be a good person to invoke for help. Also, she is an example of a wife attempting to share the truth, and in this case, Truth Himself, with her husband. She failed to convince Pilate of the truth. She did her duty in pointing out his weakness to him.
Some wives must come to silent prayer when dealing with pagan or not-so-Catholic husbands, but wives must always feel free to speak the truth to their husbands.
Great damage has been done in the past by some priests who misunderstand that in marriage, each person, husband and wife, are equal to each other. This means an open sharing of insights, truth, teachings, and so on. The role of the wife is subservient only when one person must back down in a non-moral situation. No husband has the right to make a wife act immorally or even think something immoral, if he is insisting on that.
A husband cannot be a thought policeman to his wife. Too many wives suffer from husbands in error concerning obedience, being tyrants in the home, not allowing discussion or disagreement, even if peaceful. These types of husbands are control freaks, wanting complete agreement in everything, wanting to make a wife into their own image and likeness and not that of God. The older generations were more like this, but some husbands today learned bad habits from their own fathers.
Sadly, too many misinformed priests have not given good counsel to wives concerning issues like contraception or matters of conscience. The wife must never give in to immorality or must never compromise her conscience in any way. Of course, we know this is wrong. If a priest blames all the evil in a family on the wife, as if it is the wife’s duty to be the priest in the family, that priest is wrong. Too many priests have given bad advice concerning women, as some priests actually hate women, see them only as temptresses, and not as help-mates. This is more common than one may want to admit. Most seminarians are not necessarily taught anything about the true role of the woman in a marriage.
Bullying is still a common problem among some husbands. Now, a wife cannot become a shew, either, but she is allowed by God to hold her ground. If a priest tells a wife in confession that it is OK to contracept to keep family peace, the priest is dead wrong-as he is telling the woman to cooperate with evil and commit mortal sin for the sake of peace.
She must not allow herself to be abused, ever. Philo notes that Pilate had a “furious temper” and was vindictive. Claudia must have suffered under him.
Sometimes, a wife must leave a husband or a husband must leave a wife in order to follow God and get to heaven. Not all marriages lead to each other’s salvation, as in the case of St. Claudia Procula.
I have been distressed by Christian girls telling me that they cannot discuss things with their fiancés. I asked a spiritual man about this and he said the problem starts in courtship. That is when a woman finds out whether she is allowed to speak her mind freely and be respected for her good opinions.
Young women, know that you can speak freely to your husband-to-be. If not, he is not going to respect you in marriage. You cannot change your fiance into a perfect husband. That does happen, but rarely. Marry a man who wants to be a saint, and is not marred by thinking women are inferior. You will be One in Christ, equal before God. This is the beautiful heritage of Catholic teaching. Our Lady raised the role of women in the Church. Women received honor and status through Mary. Men who love Mary truly will love their wives properly.
Mutual respect is the key to a holy marriage. Obviously, St. Claudia Procula did not have the proper respect from her husband, who was such a compromiser that he had to ask Christ, “What is truth?” when Truth was standing before him and he did not recognize Truth. Claudia and Pilate responded differently to grace.
Sad. Like the Sanhedrin, Pilate knew Christ was Innocence, Pure, King, Messiah. However, out of material gain, weakness, wanting certain careers, lives of compromise and hypocrisy, these men chose evil over Good. This was God’s plan, although God did not make these men evil, they freely chose evil. In this case, the Passion and Death of Christ, evil led to the greater glory of the freeing of all men and women from sin and death.
Christ’s Sacrifice gave us life everlasting, but not to those who did not follow Him then, or now.
St. Claudia had to live with the knowledge that her husband despaired and destroyed himself, as she is considered a widow, and a martyr. She had to choose her own salvation, free her own soul by following Christ. She was not one to give in to bullying. Christ divided them, as He said would happen:
34 Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword.
35 For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
36 And a man’s enemies shall be they of his own household.
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.
38 And he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth me, is not worthy of me.
39 He that findeth his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for me, shall find it.
40 He that receiveth you, receiveth me: and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me.
There are many kinds of domestic violence. Emotional and psychological violence are just as damaging as physical, and less obvious to those on the outside of a bad marriage. I know too many women who have lived in fear of their husbands. Fear is not from God.
Pray for bullied women. Pray that they may follow the example of St. Claudia Procula. To follow Christ is to always speak the truth in love, and accept the pain of rejection.
St. Claudia chose Christ. Pilate chose Satan. Sometimes this happens in marriages. If Pilate had been more open to his wife, perhaps he would have converted as well. He did not respect her enough. He had gone too far down the road of evil to be open to her advice. Perhaps, he did not respect his wife as a real help-mate.
Mysogyny is real and more common than some would think, even among some priests. Age-old and even ethnic prejudices against women still hold sway in this world, even among some Catholics and some Protestants. Women are not children, or toys, or trophies, but sisters-in-the Lord, and hopefully, friends-in-the-Lord, to their husbands.
St. Claudia, pray for us, and I write this for a friend of mine far, far away in another continent in the East, who spiritually has been abandoned by her mate. She has to find the way to heaven herself. St. Claudia, help her and help all women thus in suffering. May my friend, and all like her, find an intercessor in St. Claudia Procula.