Mike Aquilina

St. Pantaleon, Revert and Martyr

Thursday July 27th 2006, 3:36 am

Pantaleon lived in the late third and early fourth century. He was the son of a wealthy family, a pagan father and Christian mother. His mother instructed him in the faith, but eventually he fell away. Pursuing a career in medicine, he became physician to the Emperor Maximianus. Pantaleon returned to the faith under the influence of a holy priest. When his father died, he inherited the family fortune. This was right around the time of Diocletian’s persecution, and envious neighbors denounced him as a Christian. The emperor himself urged Pantaleon to commit apostasy. But the good doctor refused, and even healed a paralytic to show forth Christ’s power. This display added the practice of “magic” to the charges against him. According to legend, Pantaleon’s flesh was first burned with torches, then bathed in liquid lead, then thrown into the sea, then exposed to wild beasts — and on and on through many failed attempts at execution. It was not until he himself desired it that it was possible to behead him. The lives containing these legendary features are all late in date and of little historical value. But the fact of Pantaleon’s martyrdom is attested very early on, in Theodoret, Procopius of Caesarea, and the so-called “Martyrologium Hieronymianum.” His feast day is today, July 27. May he intercede for the return of all those who have fallen away from the faith (as he himself did) and for all physicians.