Saint Panteleimon (the All-Merciful)
St Panteleimon was born around 284 AD in the city of Nicomedia and was given the name of Pantoleonta. His father, Evstorgios, was a pagan who did not acknowledge God. His mother, Evoulis, was a devout Christian, and passed away while he was still young. His father sent him to study under the famous physician, Evfrosinos, where he quickly surpassed the other students. Pantoleonta was handsome, softly spoken, and humble.
All who spoke with him felt true peace and happiness. Because of his virtues, he became well known in Nicomedia. One day he visited the palace with Evfrosinos, and it was here that the ruler, Maximian, first saw him. He instructed Evfrosinos to educate Pantoleonta to the utmost so that he could be appointed royal physician.
At that time, St Ermolaos, the head of the Church in Nicomedia, lived in a house with other Christians. He watched Pantoleonta going about his studies and finally asked him about his religion. Pantoleonta told him that while his mother was alive he had been a Christian, but now his father wanted him to worship the idols. Ermolaos told him that if he believed with all his heart in the true God he would be able to cure anyone with His help. Pantoleonta acknowledged everything he was told.† From that time on, he went to Ermolaos for counsel and began to accept Christ with all his heart.
Time passed, and one day, with the grace of God, Pantoleonta saved a child from certain death after a venomous snake had bitten the child.†† He needed no further proof that Christ was the true God. Ermolaos baptised Pantoleonta, gave him Holy Communion, and instructed him in the Sacraments of the Holy Church. He remained with this holy man for seven days, and during this time he became acquainted with the teachings and practices of the Church.
Pantoleonta worked towards his father's conversion to Christianity, and this was finally achieved when he (Pantoleonta) healed a blind man who other doctors had treated in vain.† He healed him in the name of Christ and by the grace of God as well as regaining his physical sight, this man also gained spiritual sight, for he was a pagan before his healing. Pantoleonta took both his father and this man to St Ermolaos and baptised them.
Pantoleonta distributed his wealth among the poor, and proceeded to cure all who came to him. The only payment the Saint would ask of the healed was that they believed that Jesus Christ was their true healer. The other physicians became very envious and sought to betray the Saint to the Emperor.†† A group of them went to Maximian with the news that the doctor that he himself had educated was healing Christians, and that pagans were converting to Christianity. As proof, the blind man who was cured was brought before the Emperor, who tried to convince him that the gods, and not Christ, had cured him. But it was futile. Maximian realised that everything the doctors had told him was true. He ordered the healed manís beheading. After the beheading, the Saint secretly took the man's body and buried it in a Christian place.
Pantoleonta was ordered to appear before the Emperor, who described the charges that were brought before him and ordered Pantoleonta to sacrifice to the gods. The Saint refused. The false-priests and doctors begged the Emperor to execute him so that Christianity would not become popular among the people. Unable to change his beliefs, Maximian ordered that the Saint be tortured. First they tied him to a board and tore his skin with iron claws. Then, the soldiers burned him with their torches. The Saint prayed to God to give him the strength to withstand the torture. The Saint was then placed in a burning kettle, but the tar remained cool around him. The Emperor considered the miracles to be magic tricks performed by Pantoleonta. Continuing his efforts, the Emperor had a boulder tied to the Saint before throwing him into the sea. The boulder became light and the Saint floated on the water. Maximian still refused to recognise the power of the true God. Next the Saint was placed in the stadium but the wild beasts peacefully walked towards him and licked his feet. The crowd cheered and together praised God and Pantoleonta. Maximian was angry and had all the animals butchered. The miracle served to honour the Saint and to show others the way of righteousness.
The Saint was submitted to even more torture. He was tied to a wheel and then rolled down a hill. The purpose was to tear the Saint's Body to pieces. Instead, it rolled over several idolaters and killed them. The Saint again suffered no harm.
Pantoleonta decided to bring St Ermolaos to the people, since his words could convert even more pagans to Christianity. Ermolaos and two other men, Ermocratis and Ermippon, were brought before the Emperor who tried to convince them that they believed in a false God. Unable to make them renounce their faith they too were tortured, and finally beheaded. The bodies were secretly taken by some Christians and buried with honour.
The defeated Emperor passed final sentence on the Saint. He was to be beheaded, and his body cremated. The Saint was tied to an olive tree, and as the soldier raised his sword to behead the Saint, the sword melted as if it were made of wax. The soldiers fell to their knees and admitted their beliefs in Christ. The Saint prayed for them and forgave them for their sins. A voice came from heaven, saying to Pantoleonta that all he had asked for had been granted and that from this time on he would he known not as Pantoleonta, but as Panteleimon (All-merciful). He allowed the soldiers to behead him so that he would receive the crown of martyrdom. After kissing the Saint, the soldiers beheaded him. Saint Panteleimon gave his life for Christ on 27 July 304 AD, at age 29. It is said that the olive tree to which he was tied, immediately bloomed and bore fruit. Hearing of this, the Emperor ordered that the tree be cut down and the body burned. The soldiers, however, did not return to the palace. They and other Christians took the holy body and buried it. The body was anointed with myrrh, and was buried outside of the city in the Place of the Scholar Adamantinos. St John of Damascus informs us that the remains were transported to Constantinople; however, in the 12th century the Crusaders removed these remains. Saint Panteleimon is often asked by faithful Christians to aid them in times of sickness. He is believed to take special interest in those who are crippled. He is considered equal to the Benevolent Saints Cosmas and Damianos. One of his Relics was located into the Altar of our Saint Paulís Antiochian Orthodox Church in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia on the day of Consecration, July 1, 2006. His Memorial Day is celebrated on 27 July.
Troparion (in Tone Three)
O saintly champion and healer Panteleimon, intercede with our merciful God to grant our souls remission of sins.
Kontakion (in Tone Five)
Thou didst faithfully follow the Merciful One and wast granted the grace of healing. O prize-winner and Martyr of Christ our God by thine intercessions heal the diseases of our souls and banish the snares of the enemy from those who cry with faith: Save us, O Lord."