ST. PANTELEIMON PHYSICIAN AND SAINT

By The Right Reverend Father Michael D. Jordan

 

 

One of the four Evangelists of the New Testament, St. Luke was known as the "glorious physician". The Saint that we honor on July 27th is also known as a "glorious physician", having practiced his noble profession in the ancient and famous city of Nicomedia, Asia Minor. St. Panteleimon was born in the year 275 AD and was a handsome lad. His father was an intellectual and a scholar. He was also a pagan who did not believe in the new Christian Faith. His mother was a saintly woman who had become a devout Christian at a very early age.

        St. Panteleimon studied medicine under the most famous physician in the empire, Euphrosinios. For years Panteleimon worked and studied at the side of Euphrosinios. He soon became equally as talented as his teacher. He loved his chosen profession. He was the envy of all other physicians, and was admired by everyone.

        The Emperor Maximinian was also fond of Panteleimon and followed his amazing career in the field of medicine. Panteleimon spent many hours each day in the Emperorís court. His reputation as a skilled physician quickly spread throughout the empire.

        As young Panteleimon left his home each morning to go about his appointed rounds, he was observed by a pious old man by the name of Ermolaos, who lived just across the street. Ermolaos was one of the most devoted Christians of the Church. He had remained in hiding since the purge of the Christians was resumed under the cruel hand of Maximinian. Ermolaos approached Panteleimon one day and invited him into his sanctuary, where he told him about the meaning of Christianity.

        Panteleimon soon became a devout Christian and was baptized by Ermolaos. Panteleimon became known as the "great healer" and worked many miracles by invoking the name of Jesus Christ upon those who came in search of his assistance. He soon persuaded his father to abandon his beliefs in pagan gods, and both were united by the love of Christ.

        The Emperor soon learned by Panteleimonís Christian Faith and quickly demanded that he swear allegiance to the pagan gods. When Panteleimon refused to abandon his faith, the Emperor ordered that he be tortured until he gave up Christ. The tortures that the young physician underwent were among the worst suffered by any human being. Just to mention a few, he was stretched across a pole and burned by soldiers holding lighted candles to his bare skin.

        He was cast into pits of fire and thrown into a den of ferocious beasts. Yet he escaped unharmed, and the word spread that Panteleimon could not be killed. The Emperor, believing that the young physician was under a spell of witchcraft, ordered that a huge stone be tied around his waist and that he be tossed into the river.

        The stone floated, together with Panteleimon, and many hundreds of soldiers watching from the banks of the river accepted Christ. Panteleimon was then subjected to the henchmanís axe. The soldiers refused to take part in the execution, and it was only upon the insistence of Panteleimon that they carried out the Emperorís orders.

        As the axe fell, a voice was heard from heaven saying, "well done Panteleimon (the all-merciful one)." As the head of Panteleimon fell, tradition tells us that milk flowed from the saintly body of Panteleimon rather than blood. He suffered martyrdom on July 27, 304 AD at the young age of 29.

    The Gospel lesson for the Feast Day of St. Panteleimon is from St. John Chapter 15 starting at verse 17 through Chapter 16, verse 2:

"These things I command you, that you love one another. If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they would not have sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this comes to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me: And you also shall bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. These things have I spoken unto you, that you should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time will come, that whosoever kills you will think that he do Godís service."

The Epistle Reading for the Feast day is from St. Paulís Second letter to Timothy Chapter 2:1-10

"You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard of me among many witnesses, the same you should commit to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. You therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that fights wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life; so that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. The husbandman that labors must be first partaker of the fruits. Consider what I say; and the Lord give you understanding in all things. Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory."

        Panteleimon was loved and respected as long as he cooperated with the world and the unbelievers in the world. Panteleimon found Jesus Christ and was called by the Master to become a soldier for Christ. The gentle physician that enjoyed the Emperorís fickle favor received wrath from the same Emperor when he found out that Panteleimon served Jesus Christ instead of the pagan gods.

        Panteleimon no longer cooperated with the world, but his allegiance was with Jesus Christ. The horrible trials that fell upon Panteleimon did so because of his faith in Jesus Christ. Just as Christ said, "They hated me without cause", they hated Panteleimon without cause. Panteleimon was a physician and healer, he also worked miracles in the Name of Jesus Christ, the Great Physician of our souls and bodies.

        Just as Jesus Christ healed the sick, and eventually suffered death at the hands of sinners, so did Panteleimon suffer, and was rewarded for his suffering by a heavenly confirmation of his service to Jesus Christ.

        St. Paul said in the Epistle for the Feast Day. "Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." As the soldiers watched Panteleimon and the heavy stone float in the river, many of them turned to Jesus Christ.

        Though Panteleimon healed many people in his life as a physician, and worked miracles in the Name of Jesus Christ, this was the most important healing of his life, he healed the spirits of his oppressors and through his healing faith he brought the soldiers to Jesus Christ.

 

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