The path of martyrdom of St. Panteleimon


Many know of St.Panteleimon (Pantaleon) as a healer and doctor both of physical and spiritual  illnesses. This article focuses on his path to martyrdom...

Saint Martyr Pntheleimon was born in the city of Nicomedia in the year 275. It was the time when pagan king and the murderer of Christians Maximian reigned. Many of Christians died for Christ then, and the life of the other people was enslaved to the pagan gods and idols. 

The Saint’s father was a confirmed pagan as well, who glorified the idols and had some of them at his home. However his mother was a Christian, who inherited the true faith from her ancestors, and who served God wholeheartedly. Thus they lived, bound with their bodies but separated spiritually: he made sacrifices to the pagan gods, while she honored only Christ. But when she died, the youth was influenced by his father and was sometimes brought to the idols to worship them. Later he sent the young man to Euphrosynus - the most honorable and experienced doctor, to learn the art of medicine. Panteleimon was quite capable and clever, and he learned easily what was taught to him. Soon he outperformed his contemporaries and became skilled enough to catch up with his master. But he got the true gift of healing only after he finally believed in Christ and was baptized by priest Yermolay, who was hiding in a small house from the king’s guards and Christian pursuers. When someone snitched to the king, that Panteleimon worshiped Christ and reproved the pagan gods, he ordered to torture the young man.

At first the king ordered to hang the naked Martyr on a tree and to plane his body with the metal tools and to burn his ribs with the candles. Panteleimon began to pray to God: he asked to help him overcome the pain of the tortures: “Lord Jesus Christ, help me now and give me patience to endure the pangs!” And God showed up to him in the form of priest Yermolay, and He said: Be not afraid, as I am with you. At that moment the tormentors’ hands became weak and mortified, so that they dropped the instruments, and the candles went out.

When the king saw that, he said to put the Martyr down from the tree, to make a fire and heat the boiler with tin and to put the man in it. While it was boiling, the Martyr was brought to the boiler: he raised his hands and prayed again. And God appeared to him took him by the hand and they entered the boiler together. The fire went out immediately and the tin cooled off. The king shouted: “What does it mean? The fire went out, and the tin cooled off. What should I do now, and how can I torture this magician?!” So people advised him: “Let him be plunged into the sea, as he cannot enchant the whole sea. Thus he will die”.

The torturer ordered to do so. The servants caught the Martyr and led him to the sea. They put him into the boat and hanged a big stone on his neck. When they were far enough from the bank, they pushed him out of the boat and he fell into the sea. When the Saint was in the water, he saw Christ again, and the stone on his neck became as light as a leaf. Panteleimon remained on the surface of the water and did not sink. What is more, being guided by Christ just like Apostle Peter, he walked on the water honoring Christ, and when he reached the bank he appeared before the king.

Then the king organized a special arena outside the city. He ordered to bring there wild animals, so that the Martyr would be eaten alive by them.  All the inhabitants gathered here to watch the event. The Saint was thrown down to the animals, but they did not attack him. God made them meek and calm, so that they behaved just like sheep. They came to the Saint and licked his feet. When he petted them, they pushed each other as they all wanted to be touched by his hand. The people saw that and were amazed: “How great is the Christian God! The innocent man must be set free!”

Maximian was infuriated by these events. He commanded the servants to prepare a scaring device for the Martyr – the wheel besprent with needles. When they tied the Saint to the wheel and started to roll it, it was destroyed by an invisible power and shattered, and many of those who were standing nearby were killed by the shards from the wheel. But the Martyr remained safe and unharmed. 


When the king understood he could not make the Saint worship pagan Gods, he ordered to beat him. When Panteleimon was heavily beaten, the king sentenced him to death – he ordered the warriors to behead the young man and burn his body. The warriors took the Saint and led him out from the city to execute him. When they reached the chosen place, they tied him to an olive tree. The butcher took his sword and beat the Saint’s neck with it, but the steel deformed just like a piece of soft wax, and his neck was unharmed, as the Saint was finishing his prayer. The horror-stricken warriors fell down and shouted: “The Christian God is truly almighty!” They fell at the Saint’s feet and said: “We beg you to pray, that God forgives our sins and all the evil we had done by our king’s will.” When Pantaleon was praying, they all heard the God’s voice calling for him. 

The Martyr was full of joy. Then he asked the warriors to be beheaded. They did not dare to do that, because they were too scared and stricken by fear. Panteleimon appealed to them with such words: “If you do not do what is ordered to you, then you will not get mercy from my Lord”. The warriors chose one of them, who had to behead the Martyr. He stroked his head with the sword, and milk flowed out instead of blood. The ilive tree was blessed and became full of fruits from the roots to its top. Many of people who witnessed the event came to believe in Christ. The king found out about the miracles that happened there and ordered to destroy the tree and burn it with the body of the Saint. When the fire burnt out, the believers took the body left completely unharmed by fire and buried it with honor. Some of the servants who worked in the Panteleimon’s house, followed him and watched all his sufferings from afar. They heard the voice from the sky as well, and later they wrote his life story and provide the churches with it in the memory of great Martyr, so that we all can read about his feat.


 

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