July 27, 2021: ST. PANTALEON
July 27, 2021: COMMEMORATION OF ST. PANTALEON, MARTYR
“He that shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father.”
(St. Matth, x. 32)
Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that, by the intercession of blessed Pantaleon, thy Martyr, we may be delivered from all temporal adversities, and our hearts be cleansed from all evil thoughts. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
The East celebrates to-day one of her great martyrs, who was both a healer of bodies and a conqueror of souls. His name, which recalls the strength of the lion, was changed by heaven at the time of his death into Panteleemon, or all-merciful; a happy presage of the gracious blessings our Lord would afterwards bestow on the earth through his means. The various translations and the diffusion of his sacred relics in our West have made his cultus widespread, together with his renown as a friend in need, which has caused him to be ranked among the saints called helpers.
Pantaleon was a nobleman of Nicomedia and a physician. He was instructed in the faith and baptized by the priest Hermolaus, and soon persuaded his father Eustorgius to become a Christian. Afterwards he freely preached the faith of our Lord Christ in Nicomedia, and encouraged all to embrace his doctrine. This was in the reign of Diocletian. He was tortured on the rack and red-hot plates were applied to his body. He bore the violence of these tortures calmly and bravely, and being finally beheaded, obtained the crown of martyrdom.
Another account of St. Pantaleon.
He was physician to the Emperor Galerius Maximianus, and a Christian, but fell by a temptation which is sometimes more dangerous than the severest trials of the fiercest torments; for bad example, if not shunned, insensibly weakens, and at length destroys the strongest virtue. Pantaleon being perpetually obsessed by it in an impious idolatrous court, and deceived by often hearing the false maxims of the world applauded, was unhappily seduced into an apostasy. But a zealous Christian called Hermolaus, by his prudent admonitions awakened his conscience to a sense of his guilt, and brought him again into the fold of the church. The penitent ardently wished to expiate his crime by martyrdom; and, to prepare himself for the conflict, when Dioclesian's bloody persecution broke out at Nicomedia in 303, he distributed all his possessions among the poor. Not long after this action he was taken up, and in his house were also apprehended Hermolaus, Hermippus, and Hermocrates. After suffering many torments they were all condemned to lose their heads. St. Pantaleon suffered the day after the rest. He is ranked by the Greeks amongst the great martyrs. Procopius mentions a church in his honour at Constantinople, which being decayed was repaired by Justinian. His relics were translated to Constantinople, and there kept with great honour as St. John Damascen informs us. The greatest part of them are now shown in the abbey of St. Denys, near Paris, but his head at Lyons.
Physicians honour St. Pantaleon as their chief patron after St. Luke. Happy are they in that profession, who improve their study chiefly to glorify the supreme Creator, whose infinite power and wisdom are displayed in all his works; and who by the opportunities of charity which their art continually offers them, rejoice to afford comfort, and corporal, if not often also spiritual succour, to the most suffering and distressed part of their species, especially among the poor. All the healing powers of medicine are a gift of God; and he himself who could have restored Ezechias to health by the least act of his omnipotent will, directed Isaiah to apply dry figs to the abscess into which his fever was terminating; than which poultice, no better remedy could have been used to promote suppuration. St. Ambrose, St. Basil, and St. Bernard, inveigh severely against too nice and anxious a care of health, as a mark of inordinate self-love and immortitication; nor is any thing generally more hurtful to it. But as man is not master of his own life or health, he is bound to take a moderate reasonable care not to throw them away. To neglect the more simple and ordinary succours of medicine when absolutely necessary, is to transgress that law of charity which every one owes to himself. The saints who condemned as contrary to their penitential slate, far sought or exquisite means, with St. Charles Borromeo, were scrupulously attentive to essential prescriptions of physicians in simple and ordinary remedies. But let the Christian in sickness seek in the first place the health of his soul by penance, and the exercise of all virtues. Let him also consider God as his chief physician, begging him, if it may be conducive to his divine honour, to restore the frame he created, and entreating our Redeemer to stretch out that hand upon him, with which in his mortal state he restored so many sick to their health. He who trusts more in the art of physicians than the Lord, will deserve the reproach of Asa, King of Juda (II Paral, xv. 12). So hidden are often the causes of distempers, so precarious the power of remedies, and so uncertain the skill of the ablest physicians, that their endeavours frequently check nature instead of seconding its efforts, and thus hasten death. The divine blessing alone is the Christian's sheet-anchor, perfect resignation to the divine will is the secure repose of his soul; and the fervent exercise of penance, patience, and devotion, is his gain in the time of sickness.
Taken from: The Liturgical Year - Time after Pentecost, Vol. IV, Dublin, Edition 1901;
The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Vol. II; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume II, 1806.
St. Pantaleon, pray for us.