PANTELEIMON THE GREAT MARTYR & HEALER
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS
Panteleimon the Great Martyr & Healer, Nicholas of Novgorod the fool-for-Christ, Anthousa the Righteous Confessor, 853 Martyrs of Thrace who were drowned, Manuel the Righteous
ST. PAUL’S SECOND LETTER TO TIMOTHY 2:1-10
Timothy, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to satisfy the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hardworking farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will grant you understanding in everything.
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel, the gospel for which I am suffering and wearing fetters like a criminal. But the word of God is not fettered. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory.
JOHN 15:17-27; 16:1-2
The Lord said to his disciples: "This I command you, to love one another. If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It is to fulfill the word that is written in their law, 'They hated me without a cause.' But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning. I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.
The Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon was born in the city of Nicomedia into the family of the illustrious pagan Eustorgius, and he was named Pantoleon. His mother Saint Euboula (March 30) was a Christian. She wanted to raise her son in the Christian Faith, but she died when the future martyr was just a young child. His father sent Pantoleon to a pagan school, after which the young man studied medicine at Nicomedia under the renowned physician Euphrosynus. Pantoleon came to the attention of the emperor Maximian (284-305), who wished to appoint him as royal physician when he finished his schooling.
The hieromartyrs Hermolaus, Hermippus and Hermocrates, survivors of the massacre of 20,000 Christians in 303 (December 28), were living secretly in Nicomedia at that time. Saint Hermolaus saw Pantoleon time and again when he came to the house where they were hiding. Once, the priest invited the youth to the house and spoke about the Christian Faith. After this Pantoleon visited Saint Hermolaus every day.
One day the saint found a dead child on the street. He had been bitten by a great snake, which was still beside the child’s body. Pantoleon began to pray to the Lord Jesus Christ to revive the dead child and to destroy the venomous reptile. He firmly resolved that if his prayer were fulfilled, he would become a follower of Christ and receive Baptism. The child rose up alive, and the snake died before Pantoleon’s eyes.
After this miracle, Pantoleon was baptized by Saint Hermolaus with the name Panteleimon (meaning “all-merciful”). Speaking with Eustorgius, Saint Panteleimon prepared him to accept Christianity. When the father saw how his son healed a blind man by invoking Jesus Christ, he then believed in Christ and was baptized by Saint Hermolaus together with the man whose sight was restored.
After the death of his father, Saint Panteleimon dedicated his life to the suffering, the sick, the unfortunate and the needy. He treated all those who turned to him without charge, healing them in the name of Jesus Christ. He visited those held captive in prison. These were usually Christians, and he healed them of their wounds. In a short time, reports of the charitable physician spread throughout the city. Forsaking the other doctors, the inhabitants began to turn only to Saint Panteleimon.
The envious doctors told the emperor that Saint Panteleimon was healing Christian prisoners. Maximian urged the saint to refute the charge by offering sacrifice to idols. Saint Panteleimon confessed himself a Christian, and suggested that a sick person, for whom the doctors held out no hope, should be brought before the emperor. Then the doctors could invoke their gods, and Panteleimon would pray to his God to heal the man. A man paralyzed for many years was brought in, and pagan priests who knew the art of medicine invoked their gods without success. Then, before the very eyes of the emperor, the saint healed the paralytic by calling on the name of Jesus Christ. The ferocious Maximian executed the healed man, and gave Saint Panteleimon over to fierce torture.
The Lord appeared to the saint and strengthened him before his sufferings. They suspended the Great Martyr Panteleimon from a tree and scraped him with iron hooks, burned him with fire and then stretched him on the rack, threw him into a cauldron of boiling tar, and cast him into the sea with a stone around his neck. Throughout these tortures the martyr remained unhurt, and denounced the emperor.
At this time the priests Hermolaus, Hermippus and Hermocrates were brought before the court of the pagans. All three confessed their faith in the Savior and were beheaded (July 26).
By order of the emperor they brought the Great Martyr Panteleimon to the circus to be devoured by wild beasts. The animals, however, came up to him and licked his feet. The spectators began to shout, “Great is the God of the Christians!” The enraged Maximian ordered the soldiers to stab with the sword anyone who glorified Christ, and to cut off the head of the Great Martyr Panteleimon.
They led the saint to the place of execution and tied him to an olive tree. While the martyr prayed, one of the soldiers struck him with a sword, but the sword became soft like wax and inflicted no wound. The saint completed his prayer, and a Voice was heard from Heaven, calling the passion-bearer by his new name and summoning him to the heavenly Kingdom.
Hearing the Voice, the soldiers fell down on their knees before the holy martyr and begged forgiveness. They refused to continue with the execution, but Saint Panteleimon told them to fulfill the emperor’s command, because otherwise they would have no share with him in the future life. The soldiers tearfully took their leave of the saint with a kiss.
When the saint was beheaded, the olive tree to which the saint was tied became covered with fruit. Many who were present at the execution believed in Christ. The saint’s body was thrown into a fire, but remained unharmed, and was buried by Christians. Saint Panteleimon’s servants Laurence, Bassos and Probus witnessed his execution and heard the Voice from Heaven. They recorded the life, the sufferings and death of the saint.
Portions of the holy relics of the Great Martyr Panteleimon were distributed throughout all the Christian world. His venerable head is now located at the Russian monastery of Saint Panteleimon on Mt. Athos.
The veneration of the holy martyr in the Russian Orthodox Church was already known in the twelfth century. Prince Izyaslav (in Baptism, Panteleimon), the son of Saint Mstislav the Great, had an image of Saint Panteleimon on his helmet. Through the intercession of the saint he remained alive during a battle in the year 1151. On the Feast of the Great Martyr Panteleimon, Russian forces won two naval victories over the Swedes (in 1714 near Hanhauze and in 1720 near Grenham).
Saint Panteleimon is venerated in the Orthodox Church as a mighty saint, and the protector of soldiers. This aspect of his veneration is derived from his first name Pantoleon, which means “a lion in everything”. His second name, Panteleimon, given him at Baptism, which means “all-merciful”, is manifest in the veneration of the martyr as a healer. The connection between these two aspects of the saint is readily apparent in that soldiers, receiving wounds more frequently than others, are more in need of a physician-healer. Christians waging spiritual warfare also have recourse to this saint, asking him to heal their spiritual wounds.
The holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon is invoked in the Mystery of Anointing the Sick, at the Blessing of Water, and in the Prayers for the Sick.
Blessed Nicholas Kochanov, Novgorod Fool-for-Christ (+ 1392), was born at Novgorod into a rich and illustrious family. From his youthful years he loved piety, he went to church faithfully, and he loved fasting and prayer. Seeing his virtuous life, people began to praise him. Blessed Nicholas, disdaining glory from men, began the difficult exploit of folly for the Lord’s sake. He ran about the city in the bitter cold dressed in rags, enduring beatings, insults and mockery. Blessed Nicholas and another Novgorod fool, Blessed Theodore (January 19), pretended to be irreconcilable foes, and graphically demonstrated to the people of Novgorod the pernicious character of their internecine strife.
Once, having overcome his sham opponent, Blessed Nicholas went along the Volkhov as if on dry land, and threw a head of cabbage at Blessed Theodore, therefore he was called “Kochanov” (i.e. “cabbage-head”). The Lord glorified Blessed Nicholas with the gift of miracles and clairvoyance.
Once, after being turned away by servants from a feast to which he had been invited, he left. Immediately, the wine disappeared from the barrel. Only upon the return of the fool, and through his prayer, did it reappear again. When he died, Blessed Nicholas was buried at the end of the cemetery by the Yakovlev cathedral.
The relics of Blessed Nicholas rest under a crypt in the church of the Great Martyr Panteleimon which was built over his grave.
Saint Anthusa the Confessor lived at Mantinea, Paphlygonia in Asia Minor during the eighth century. Leaving the world at a young age, Saint Anthusa lived in asceticism in the mountains in complete solitude. She received monastic tonsure from the hieromonk Sisinius, and became abbess of a monastery of ninety nuns. The nuns were known for their obedience to their abbess and for their spiritual discipline.
Saint Anthusa and her nuns suffered during the reign of the emperor Constantine Copronymos, who demanded that they renounce the veneration of holy icons. Saint Anthusa and her nuns were subjected to torture, since they disobeyed the emperor’s order.
Among those who witnessed the torture was the emperor’s wife, for whom the saint predicted the birth of a son and daughter. When Saint Anthusa’s prediction was fulfilled, she was allowed to return to her convent, where she died in great old age. The daughter born to the emperor’s wife was named Anthusa (April 12).
Having lived a life pleasing to God, she reposed in 759 and now lives with Him forever. She was buried in her cell.
Saints Clement, Bishop of Ochrid, Equal of the Apostles, Nahum, Savva, Gorazd and Angelar1 were Slavs, disciples of Saints Cyril and Methodios (May 11). At first they lived as ascetics in Moravia, where Saint Gorazd succeeded Saint Methodios as bishop. He was fluent in Slavonic, Greek and Latin. Saints Clement, Nahum, Angelar and Savva were priests.
The Enlighteners of the Slavs were opposed by German missionaries, who had the support of the Pope and the patronage of the Moravian Prince Svyatopolk. The struggle centered around the questions of the need for Divine Services in Slavonic, the Filioque, and Saturday fasting. Pope Stephen VI prohibited the use of Slavonic in church.
The proponents of the three-tongued heresy (who wanted to use only Hebrew, Greek, or Latin for Church Services), after setting aside the ancestral language of the Slavic peoples, brought the disciples of Saint Methodios to trial, including Saint Clement. They subjected them to fierce torture: dragging them through thorns, and holding them in prison for a long time, just as they had done with their Spiritual Father, Saint Methodios.
In 886, some of the prisoners were sold to slave-traders, and ended up in the Venice marketplace. The ambassador of the Byzantine Emperor Basil the Macedonian went to Venice, ransomed the Saints and took them to Constantinople. The older confessors were banished. It is not known where Saint Gorazd went, nor where Saint Savva found shelter. Saints Nahum and Angelar went to Bulgaria.
In 907 Moravia collapsed under the onslaught of the Magyars, and Moravian refugees by the same routes followed earlier by the Saints they had exiled.
The Bulgarians received the Slavonic confessors with respect and requested them to conduct Divine Services in the Slavonic language. The Bulgarian Prince Boris sought people such as the disciples of Saint Methodios, who labored for the enlightenment of his nation. Right away, the Saint began to study Slavonic books collected by the Bulgarian nobles.
Saint Angelar soon reposed, and Saint Clement was appointed to teach at Kutmichivitsa, in southwest Macedonia. In the Eastern Church, a teacher had to be a worthy person, someone known for his devout life, and who was able to speak well in public. Saint Clement was a teacher while he was still in Moravia. In Bulgaria, he worked as an instructor until 893. He organized a school at the princely court, which was highly regarded by the time of Simeon's reign. In southwest Macedonia he created separate schools for adults and children.
Saint Clement instructed the children in reading and in writing. The total number of his students was enormous. Those chosen and accepted for ordination amounted to 3500 men. In the year 893, Saint Clement became Bishop of Dremvitsa, or Velitsa, and Saint Nahum took his place.
Saint Clement was the first Bulgarian hierarch to serve, preach and write in the Slavonic language. To this end he systematically trained clergy from among the Slavic people. The holy bishop labored for the glory of God into his old age. When his strength failed, and he was unable to fulfill his responsibilities in the cathedral, he asked Tsar Simeon to let him retire.
The Tsar urged the Saint not to abandon his cathedral, and Saint Clement agreed to continue his episcopal service. After this he went to Okhrid, to a monastery he founded. There he continued his work of translation, including some important portions of the Pentecostarion.
Saint Clement became seriously ill and departed to the Lord in the year 916. His body was placed in a coffin, which he had made with his own hands, and was buried at Okhrid's Saint Panteleimon Monastery.
Saint Clement is considered the first Slavonic author. Not only did he continue the translation work begun by Saints Cyril and Methodios, he also left behind works of his own composition, the first samples of Slavonic spiritual literature.
Many of the lessons and sermons of Saint Clement were brought to Russia, where they were read and lovingly copied by devout Russian Christians.
The relics of Saints Gorazd and Angelar rest near Berat in Albania, and Saint Nahum’s relics are in the monastery which bears his name, near Lake Okhrid.
Saint Clement is also commemorated on November 22 (Greek usage), and on November 25 (his Name Day).
1 His name may come from the Greek word αναγορεύω (to proclaim).