My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
27th of July Our Holy Orthodox Church
commemorates the Glorious holy Martyr
and Unmerceneray Healer
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Third Tone
O HOLY prizewinner and healer Panteleimon, intercede with the
Merciful God that He grant our souls forgiveness of offenses,
Kontakion Hymn. Plagal of First Tone
SINCE thou art 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.
Saint Panteleimon, the glorious Great-Marty, flourished during the years of Emperor Galerius Maximian [305-311 A.D.]. Saint Panteleimon hailed from the city of Nicomedia. He was born there in 284 A.D. He was the son of a pagan physician, named Efstorgios. His mother, named Evoulee, came from Christian lineage. As much as Efstorgios depended on the idols to effect cures, so much was Evoulee’s love and eagerness heightened toward the Orthodox Christian Faith. She brought up their child, whom they name PANTOLEON (meaning "a lion in all"), not only with what was necessary for the body but more so with what was needful for the soul. She would instruct and exhort him in the Faith handed down by Christ. Within a few years, however, the blessed Evoulee reposed. Pantoleon was sent to school, studying first the curriculum and then undertaking those subjects integral to Greek education. When he was taught sufficient knowledge, his father apprenticed him to a splendid doctor of that time, named Ephrosynos, that Pantoleon might gain experience in medical science. The young man, on account of his quick mind, surpassed his fellow students.
Pantoleon possessed a handsome countenance. His manner of speech was sweet and soft-spoken. His figure was modest and average. He was a man of excellence with a well-ordered mind. Whoever encountered him and entered into a conversation with him found him to have a pleasing manner of address and a congenial disposition, so that one received both joy and delight from his acquaintance. By reason of his virtues, he came to be widely known. Emperor Maximian, who saw him one day when he accompanied Ephrosynos to the palace, asked after the young man. He learned from Pantoleon’s teacher of the apt pupil’s dexterity and genius. But Maximian could discern for himself both Pantoleon’s prudence and self-possession. He was impressed with his demeanor and speech. So prudence and self-possession. He was impressed with his demeanor and speech. So pleased was the Emperor that he commanded Ephrosynos to instruct Pantoleon as much as possible so that he might become the ultimate doctor and fit for his palace. At the same time, in the year 304 A.D., the saintly Hermolaos, the priest of the church of Nicomedia was in hiding. He was concealed in a house with other Christians for fear of the Emperor. Since Ephrosynos’ surgery and home were in the same neighborhood, the Christians observed the goodly young man coming and going to read his lessons at his tutor’s clinic. Hermolaos discerned that the young man was most modest in his deportment. He perceived that his soul was replete with goodness and innocence. He understood in the Spirit that if the seed of the word fell upon the good ground of the aspiring doctor’s soul, it would bear a hundredfold. The Lord led him to understand that "this one is a vessel of election to Me, to bear My name before the nations, and kings…" [Acts 9:15], as it was once said of the Apostle Paul who was then Saul.
The priest opened the door of the house and cordially invited the young man inside for a conversation. The youth was straightforward in his responses. He added that his late mother had been a Christian, but that his father was an idolater. Hermolaos interjected, "But thou, child, which religion dost thou love better?" Pantoleon answered, "When my mother was alive, she was always exhorting me to become a Christian when I came of age, which was also my desire as well… Hermolaos said to Pantoleon the true God is one: Jesus Christ if thou will believe in Him with all your heart, He shall heal every disease without application of any medicinal herbs or botanicals. By His grace, He cleanses lepers, delivers demoniacs, stanches hemorrhages, and heals other implacable and incurable illnesses. Indeed, it would be easier to count the sands of the seas and the stars of the heavens than to measure the wonders of the Christ.
Pantoleon, hearing these promises, sensed an abundance of joy in his heart. He responded thusly: "Whatsoever thou hast said, O holy elder, I have heard many times from my mother in the past. Pantoleon then expressed his thanks for the counsel rendered by Hermolaos. Little by little, Pantoleon was besing confirmed in the Faith of the Christ. Then one day, as the young man was coming from his tutor, he encountered a child in his path. The young boy lay dead on the ground being the victim of a venomous snake bite. The reptile was still poised in an upright position over the child. Pantoleon, observing this scene, brought to mind the words spoken by Hermolaos who previously cited the Gospel passage of Christ’s words: "Be healing the sick, cleansing lepers, raising the dead, casting out demons, freely ye received, freely give" (Matthew 10:8). He also remembered the Lord’s promise: "Behold, I give you the authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy; and nothing in anywise shall injure you" (Luke 10:19). Pantoleon said inwardly, "If Christ should fulfill this request of mine, that is, if He should resurrect the child slain by the serpent, I would ask for no further demonstration. I will believe all the teachings that the honorable elder has imparted to me. Moreover, I am going to become a Christian this instant." Pantoleon, straightway, uttered a prayer. In that same moment, the child rose up as though he had been sleeping. Pantoleon then observed how the viper suddenly sundered before his eyes and utterly destroyed.
Pantoleon, true to his word, believed with all his soul and heart in the Christ. He happily directed his steps toward the house where Hermolaos was abiding. The priest perceived that Pantoleon would become an elect vessel of the myrrh of the Holy Spirit. Gladly did Father Hermolaos baptized him, after which he had the newly illumined Pantoleon commune the Master’s Body and Blood. The priest also taught him the mysteries of the Truth of Our Faith. Pantoleon, by the grace of God, curred many ailing from significant illnesses in the name of Christ. As many as suffered from sickness, they all sought no other physician other than Pentoleon.
As for the other doctors in that city, they were moved to envy and malice beholding the wonderworking (miracle-working) wrought by that young physician. Their resentment and malice toward Pantoleon multiplied. They sought a reason to bring him into discredit before the Emperor…they addressed the Emperor and said, "we, who are thy faithful servants and loyal to the empire’s gods, counsel thee to remove him as quickly as possible out of the minds of both Greeks and Christians…he claims his cures are not wrought by Asklepios but by his Christ. If, O Emperor, thou wouldest learn the truth for thyself. give the command that the formerly blind man be brought in for questioning. He claims to have been healed by Pantoleon. Hear from this man’s own lips how he praises Pantoleon to the heavens for bringing the light not only to his eyes but to his soul in the knowledge of Christ.
Maximian summoned the saintly physician before him. When he arrived at the palace, the Emperor commenced the interrogation and said: "I have heard many unseemly reports regarding thee, Pantoleon. I have heard it said that thou dost insult and disdain Asklepios and the other deities, preferring to believe in the Christ and saying that Jesus alone is God…However, I know this also oftentimes contenders are moved to jealousy ad speak falsehood of their rivals. Surely, many others aspire to be appointed as court physicians. It is for this reason that t have invited thee here to offer a sacrifice. In this way shall I learn the truth about thy religious persuasion." The holy physician answered, "Deeds, O Emperor, are superior to words as everyone well knows…The God Whom I venerate and reverence, Who made the heavens and the earth, gives light to the blind, cleanses the lepers, restores the paralytics, and works signs and wonders with a word or a command…"
The Martyrdom of Saint Panteleimon
Maximian was unable to persuade Pantoleon with either blandishments or threats, he began his punishment with the application of instruments of torture. First, they suspended Pantoleon upon a wooden pole, where they lacerated and flayed his flesh with iron nails. This painful chastisement was followed by the application of fiery torches that badly burned his sides and his wounded members. While the shredded and charred body of the martyr was subjected to these punishments, his mind was fixed upon that One, the Christ, Who was able to bestow aid. As he directed his gaze heavenward, Pantoleon was entreating the Lord noetically. The Lord heard him nd came to him, before Pantoleon’s eyes, in that same hour. Jesus came in the form of Hermolaos, who spoke to him with genuine paternal affection, "Cease fearing, my child, for I am with thee. I am indeed, thy helper in all thy sufferings for My sake." Together with those words, there also came to pass a demonstration of deeds of power. Immediately, the hands of the soldiers extending the torture became paralyzed. The torches were extinguished. The wounds of the Saint were healed. Asf rot he transgressing Emperor, he was put to shame at these spectacles…
"The Emperor commanded the preparation of a large cauldron filled with molten lead. A blazing fire was kindled underneath it. The martyr was pitched inside. Pantoleon, having again resorted to prayer as his comfort and consolation which was to small help, began to utter, "Hearken, O God, unto my soul from fear of the enemy [Psalm 63:1] –and the rest of the psalm. However, the fire was extinguished and the molten lead became. cool…The Emperor, hardened and insensible persisted in his belief that everything he had witnessed was brought about by sorcery. He was advised by bystanders to tie a large rock about the martyr’s neck and cast him into the sea. Maximian ordered the execution of this punishment. While the soldiers hastened to expedite the command, God, once more, provided His servant with help.
The men took hold of the Saint and plunged him, with the heavy rock, into the sea. Christ appeared to him again, causing that weight mass to become as light as a tree leaf so that it floated and bobbed on the waters. As for Pantoleon he was able to walk upon the waters even as the chief Apostle Peter came down from the ship, and "walked on the water to go to Jesus (Matthew 24:29). Pantoleon then exited the waves and came onto the shore, healthy and unharmed. However, Maximian’s heart did not soften in the least before such wonder-workings. Instead, he resumed the punishments. This time that beast, ordered that the martyr be hurled into the arena with wild animals. (Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)
[To be continued]
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
+ + +
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George