Monday, July 27, 2015

July 27 - Panteleimon, Martyr, Physician, Opponent of Death


Pantaleon (meaning "like a lion in all things") was born to a non-Christian father and Christian mother in Nicomedia in 275 CE. His mother repeatedly shared the Christian faith and way with him throughout his childhood but he fell away from his mother's beliefs and never claimed them as his own. His academic pursuits and able intellect led him to study medicine. His skill in the field was apparent from the beginning and his practice gained attention from many people--including the emperor Maximian. It was, in fact, as a physician that he was first reached by the convicting faith of his mother. Hermolaus, a physician himself, appealed to him arguing that Jesus was "the great physician" and, therefore, worthy of emulation and great consideration.

Hermolaus connected the life and viewpoint of Pantaleon to that of his childhood and his mother's teachings. For Pantaleon, this resulted not only in the changing of his name to Panteleimon (meaning "mercy for everyone") but, also, the changing of his approach to medicine. By bridging the gap between Panteleimon's childhood and his identity,Hermolaus unleashed a great healer upon not only the persecuted Christians but, also, the sick and suffering. Panteleimon truly did offer mercy for anyone and everyone. Though he was employed by Maximian he offered healing and mercy even to the poorest of the poor.

Eventually, he was denounced to the authorities and charged with being a Christian. Given Panteleimon's incredible reputation as a healer and worker of good, the emperor Maximian hoped to convince Panteleimon to renounce his faith and become an apostate--a well-rewarded and highly-regarded apostate. Panteleimon refused to deny the faith he once had cast aside and, instead, he confessed it boldly regardless of what he stood to lose in doing so.

Further, he challenged the imperial delusions to a test. He challenged Maximian's best doctors to a challenge: there was a certain paralytic who was considered unable to be healed--Panteleimon invited this man in and gave the doctors sufficient time to try all that they knew to heal the man's paralysis. Though they were esteemed in imperial eyes, the doctors failed. Panteleimon offered prayer and requested healing and the man stood up free from paralysis. Perhaps Panteleimon expected to be released or to convert Maximian but this was not to be as hatred and shame had filled the heart of Maximian. Maximian--so lost in imperial delusions and unable truly to see life--labeled this healing as trickery and sorcery. He had the healed paralytic executed in a show of savage domination and power.

As punishment for healing the paralytic and being a Christian, Maximian brought some of Panteleimon's friends--including Hermolaus--before himself and threatened them with beheading if Panteleimon would not renounce his faith. These men were martyred as Panteleimon stood strong and proclaimed that there is more to life than a heartbeat and more to death than a grave. In doing this, Maximian made a statement about life and death and made the point that the empire's power was death and the control of it. However, even as he condemned Panteleimon--instrument of life and mercy to so many and his own personal physician--to death, his power of death could not restrain the power of life held by the God of Panteleimon.

In anger and desperation for power, Maximian ordered Panteleimon beheaded to make his point concerning death and power. As Panteleimon prayed, the blade failed to cut his neck. As he finished his prayer, Panteleimon heard a voice from heaven calling him home and he lovingly permitted the soldiers to execute him. Having shown the power of life over death and God over the empire, Panteleimon was beheaded and martyred as a servant of life and opponent of the power of death in the year 303.

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