My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
ON JULY 27th
OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH COMMEMORATES
THE FEAST OF SAINT PANTELEIMON, THE GREAT MARTYR
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Great Martyr. Third Tone
O HOLY prizewinner and healer Panteleimon, intercede with the
Merciful God that He grant unto our soul’s forgiveness of
Kontakion Hymn. Plagal of First Tone
SINCE thou an imitator of the Merciful One, and hast received from Him
the grace of healing. O prizewinner and Martyr of Christ our God,
by thy prayers heal the diseases of our souls, and ever dispel the
stumbling blocks of the enemy from them that cry unceasingly: SAVE
US O LORD.
During the end of the 3rd century AD, Saint Panteleimon, the Great Doctor and Martyr was born. His father, Efstrogios, was not only very rich, but was well known for his zeal in idol worship; whereas his mother Saint Evouli was a faithful Orthodox Christian full of the Holy Spirit, love, and kindness. Her only interest was to guide her only begotten son in the True faith and virtuous life.
Saint Panteleimon’s first name was Pantoleon. When he was very young, his mother, Saint Evouli, passed away and his father taught him to worship the false gods of their ancestors. He studied under the guidance of the wise doctor Efphrosynos, and shortly differentiated from all his other classmates in wisdom and all virtues. Even the Roman pagan Emperor Maximianos admired his kind character so much, that he ordered Efphrosynos to teach him all the secrets of medicine and made him his own personal imperial doctor.
At that period of time, in the Greek city of Nicomedia, there was an old man named Ermolaos who was the Orthodox Priest of the city. He foresaw, that the young Pantoleon would become a vessel of Christ’s Grace and would glorify Him through his life. One day, as Pantoleon was passing by, he called the young doctor to his house and asked him about his family and religious beliefs. Pantoleon, as noble as he was, answered with politeness to all his questions. Saint Ermolaos said to him that the medicine which Asclepius, Hippocrates, and Galenus taught is of no value, nor the gods of the Empire are true gods, but false and the work of man. He taught Pantoleon about the Orthodox Christian Faith and that Christ is the only true God, Who created heaven and earth, and reminded him that his mother believed in Jesus Christ. He also emphasized that Christ is the True Physician of both SOUL and BODY and assured him, that if he believed in Christ, he shall cure all illnesses through God’s Healing Grace.
Pantoleon heard all the wise words of Saint Ermolaos. One day, as he was returning to his home after school, he found on the side of the road a small boy who died after being bitten by a viper snake. Pantoleon prayed to Jesus Christ saying: ‘If You are the True God, as Ermolaos says, let this boy rise from the dead and let the viper die.’ Immediately the boy came back to life and the snake blasted into pieces.
This was the proof which he needed. He returned to Ermolaos and demanded to be baptized. From that day onwards, the young doctor performed so many miracles in the name of Jesus Christ that his fame travelled throughout the Roman Empire. From all places, Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome, ill people came to see the imperial doctor and to be cured of their illnesses. He never demanded payment for his services, but rather asked that they believe in the True God and become Orthodox Christians.
Unfortunately, the other doctors, seeing that they were losing out, reported to Maximianos the Emperor that his personal doctor, Pantoleon, was a Christian. The pagan Emperor, at first, did not want to believe this rumour. He sent soldiers to bring Pantoleon and asked him personally. When the young man stood before the Emperor, he confessed his faith in the One and Only True God. In order to prove the falsehood of the gods, Pantoleon cured a blind man, but the Emperor did not believe.
Pantoleon was brought forth in the imperial court. He was asked to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods of the Empire. On his refusal, Maximianus put Christ’s Martyr under different martyrdom. He was hanged, and with iron clutches, the soldiers tore his body to pieces. At the same time, they burned his wounds with torches. They threw him into a boiler with lead, but God’s Grace protected His servant. They then plunged him into the sea with a heavy rock tied to his neck to drown him, but he walked on the sea as on dry land. They tied him on a large wheel of knives to be cut in pieces, but was not harmed. They threw him to the lions, but the wild beasts respected the Martyr of Christ and were playing around him as if kittens. On that day, all the inhabitants of Nicomedia, seeing that the Martyr through his God overcame all sufferings, believed in Christ and cried out with one voice:
"GREAT IS THE GOD OF THE CHRISTIANS, HE IS THE ONE AND TRUE GOD, LET THE RIGHTEOUS BE SET FREE."
Maxemeanus, seeing that he could not achieve anything, ordered that Pantoleon be beheaded on the 27th of July, in the year of the Lord 304 A.D. When the soldiers brought Pantoleon outside the city of Nicomedia, they tied him on a dry olive tree. The Martyr of Christ asked for few moments to pray. Christ appeared to him and said:
‘From now on your name shall be PANTELEIMON, for in your name I shall work signs (miracles or wonders) and if anyone calls WITH FAITH UPON YOUR NAME, HE SHALL BE CURED OF ANY ILLNESS HE HAS.’
At the stroke of the sword on Saint Panteleimon’s neck, the sword bent as though it was made out of wax. Everyone was filled with fear, but Saint Panteleimon demanded that they should carry out the Emperor’s order, and thus he was beheaded. When his blood fell on the roots of the dry (dead) olive tree, immediately it gave new branches, leaves and olives.
This is the life and the Martyrdom of the Great Martyr of Christ Panteleimon, whom our Orthodox Church celebrates on July 27th. Everything he did and lived for was for Christ’s Glory. He never gave in to worship false gods or teachings. He never placed worldly riches or pleasures over his love for Christ.
We, as Orthodox Christians, must recall the lives of these heroes of our Orthodox Christian Faith, because they ARE THE LIVING PROOF THAT MAN CAN BE SAVED IN CHRIST. We must imitate their faithfulness TO OUR LORD AND SAVIOR. We must take their example of virtuous life and become LIVING TEMPLES OF OUR True God. We must GIVE TESTIMONY TO THE WORLD WHICH LIVES IN THE DARKNESS OF FAITHLESSNESS AND IGNORANCE OF TRUE Faith in Christ. WE MUST NEVER FORGET THAT OUR ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN FAITH IS THE TRUE AND ORIGINAL (AUTHENTIC) WHICH LEADS MAN TO SALVATION. In this Faith, MILLIONS OF MARTYRS FOUND THE STRENGTH TO OVERCOME TRIALS, PERSECUTIONS, MARTYRDOM, AND FINALLY DEATH ITSELF.
WITHIN OUR ORTHODOX CHURCH we have the living proof, the existence of the Saints, Holy Martyrs, and Ascetics, who gave their lives for Christ’s sake and were brought forth to kings and rulers of the world. They, testify, that Orthodoxy leads TO SANCTIFICATION AND SALVATION. The Saints of our Church ARE THE TRUE FRIENDS OF CHRIST WHO PROVED THEIR LOVE TO HIM AND, BECAUSE OF THIS LOVE, SACRIFICED EVERYTHING FOR His glory. LET US IMITATE THEM. (Source: His Eminence Metropolitan Panteleimon of Antinoes (South Africa).
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George