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Homily for the feast of the Great-martyr Panteleimon

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  • Basil Yakimov
    Homily for the feast of the Great-martyr Panteleimon In ancient times, when referring to martyrs, they were called “witnesses,” in accordance with what the
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 6 5:22 PM
      Homily for the feast of the Great-martyr Panteleimon

      In ancient times, when referring to martyrs, they were called “witnesses,”
      in accordance with what the Lord Jesus Christ told the apostles about their
      future service: “You shall be My witnesses everywhere.” In truth, what
      testimony can be greater than when a person is ready to seal it with his
      blood and life, as did the holy martyrs. Those around them could not but
      wonder at the strength exhibited by the martyrs who, with all possible
      benefits spread before them, turned away from them and chose torture and
      agonizing death instead. They were aided by a special sort of force, and
      their hearts were touched by genuine truth.

      Great-martyr Panteleimon For example, look at the great-martyr Panteleimon
      – a wealthy, prominent, and hand-some young man, before whom an entire life
      was spread out, and the way was open to the best possible circumstances
      from a human point of view. And yet what did he choose? An agonizing death.
      We know that prior to his baptism he was not called Panteleimon, which was
      the name he received at baptism, but was called Pantoleon. This Greek name
      consisted of two words that meant “strong in all things.” The name
      characterized his strong and forceful nature. However, when he was
      illuminated by the light of baptism through the offices of the holy
      martyric presbyter Hermolaus and became a Christian, he was given another
      name – that of Panteleimon, which means all-merciful or merciful to all.
      And we know how this holy youth spread healing and all kind of spiritual
      help around him. But when he was called upon to bear witness to his faith
      in Christ, he went out to suffer terrible tortures, rejoicing that in this
      manner he would affirm his loyalty to the One Whom he had come to love with
      his entire pure heart.

      The situation is different in our times. No one threatens us with bloody
      torture or agonizing death. Yet, on the other hand, our times are such that
      in order to be a Christian always and in all things, and to act like a
      Christian in all ways, one also needs a fair amount of spiritual force, for
      the further we progress, the deeper and deeper and faster and faster does
      the world roll down the slope into an abyss of materialism and insanity…
      And the Christian who lives in the nightmare of our times and still wishes
      to truly be a Christian must naturally have strength of spirit similar to
      the strength possessed by the ancient martyrs. Saint Panteleimon is
      precisely one of such witnesses, who stood face-to-face before the pagans
      and testified to the light of Christ’s truth, to its unfading radiance, to
      its all-conquering power, for these martyrs truly confirmed the apostolic
      words: “Such is the victory which conquered the world – our faith!” Amen.


      St Panteleimon the All-Merciful Memory celebrated August 9

      St Panteleimon was born about 284 AD in the city of Nicodemia. His father,
      Evstorgios, was an idolater while his mother, Evoulis, was a devout
      Christian. She raised her son, whose real name was Pantoleonta, in the
      Christian way of life. She passed away while her son was still young.
      Initially Pantoleonta was educated in his native tongue and then in Greek.
      His father sent him to study under the famous physician, Evfrosinos.
      Quickly he surpassed the other students. He was handsome, soft spoken,
      humble and all who spoke with him felt true happiness and peace. Because of
      these virtues, he became well known in Nicodemia. One day he went with
      Evfrosinos to the palace 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 Nicodemia, lived in a
      house with other Christians. He watched Pantoleonta every day as he went to
      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
      had made him follow the pagans. 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 and from that time
      on, he went to Ermolaos for counsel and began to accept Christ with all his
      Time passed, and one day, with the grace of God, Pantoleonta saved a child
      from certain death after being bitten by a viper. 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 for seven days with this holy man, and during this time he became
      completely acquainted with the teachings and practices of the Church.

      Soon, Pantoleonta was working towards his father's conversion to
      Christianity. This was finally achieved when he saw his son cure a man of
      his blindness. By the grace of God, the man regained his sight, not only
      physically, but also spiritually, for before this time he was an idolater.
      Pantoleonta took the man and his father to St Ermolaos who baptised them.

      Pantoleonta distributed his wealth among the poor and then proceeded to
      cure all who came to him. The only payment the St would ask was that the
      healed person believe that Jesus Christ was their true healer. The other
      physicians became very envious and wanting to betray the Saint to the
      Emperor, a group of them went to Maximian and told him that the doctor that
      he himself had educated was healing Christians and that the idolaters 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 had
      cured him and not Christ. But it was futile. Maximian realised that
      everything the doctors had told him was true. He ordered that the man be
      beheaded. 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 gain in popularity
      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 strength to withstand the torture. Next the Saint
      was taken and placed in a kettle but the tar remained cool around him. The
      Emperor considered the miracles to be magic tricks performed by
      Pantoleonta. Continuing with his efforts he had a boulder tied to the Saint
      and thrown 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 enraged 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 tortures. 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 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 he
      beheaded and his body was to he cremated. The Saint was taken and tied to
      an olive tree. 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 forced
      the soldiers to behead him so that he could receive the crown of martyrdom.
      After kissing the Saint, the soldiers beheaded him. St Panteleimon gave his
      life for Christ on 27 July 304 AD. It is said that the olive tree to which
      he was tied, immediately bloomed and brought forth fruit. Hearing of this,
      the Emperor ordered that the tree be cut down and that the body be 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 buried outside of the city in the Place of the Scholar

      St John of Damascus informs us that the remains were transported to
      Constantinople, however, in the 12th century they were removed by the
      Crusaders. St 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. by Christina Dedoussis From: http://www.greekorthodox.net.au
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