Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS AND IS AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ. ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
AN ORTHODOX PRAYER FOR THE SICK
O Holy Father, Heavenly Physician of our souls and bodies, Who hast sent Thine Only-begotten Son and Our Lord Jesus Christ to heal our diseases and deliver us from death. Do Thou visit and heal Thy servant (Name.), granting (him/her) release from pain and restoration to health and life, that (he/she) may give thanks unto thee and bless Thy Holy Name, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
On July 27th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics and Teachers of Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: The Holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon.
FROM THE OFFICE OF GREAT VESPERS OF THE HOLY FEAST OF SAINT PANTELEIMON
Thou Who wast rightly named Merciful in All Things, when Thou hadst spread over all Thy tender love for man, showing Thy care and solicitude by freely granting the healing both of the body and the soul, then was Panteleimon made Thy right and worthy name, bestowed, O Martyr, in recompense for holy virtue and as the wage of thy godly piety; and thou hast shown thyself to be crowned and invincible soldier of Christ Our God. Do thou therefore entreat Him to enlighten and to save our souls.
Thou who wast given the grace of cures and healings, when thou hadst preferred above all else, true piety, in holding fast to the godliness thy mother taught thee, and rightly hating thy father's godlessness, then was that divine illumination given thee by the Abyss of Enlightenment, the Light-bestower, the Word of God, Who hath doth give the greatest gifts; the illustrious splendour of godly life, which, O wise Panteleimon, thou didst show forth in the sight of all.
ONE OF THREE READINGS AT GREAT VESPERS TAKEN FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT
The Reading is from the Prophecy of Isaiah (43:9-14)
Thus saith the Lord: All nations are gathered together, and princes shall be gathered out of them; who will declare these things among them? Or who will declare to you things from the beginning? Let them bring forth their witnesses, and be justified; and let them hear, and declare the truth. Be ye My witnesses, and I too am a witness, saith the Lord God, and My servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know, and believe Me, and understand that I am. Before me there was no other God, and after Me there shall be none. I am God, and beside me there is no Savior. I have declared, and have saved, I have reproached, and there was no strange god among you. Ye are my witnesses, and I am a witness, saith the Lord God. Even from the beginning I am; and there is none that can deliver out of my hands. I will work, and who shall turn it back? Thus saith the Lord God that redeemth you, the Holy One of Israel.
The Reading is from the Wisdom of Solomon (5:15-6:3)
The righteous live forever; and their reward is in the Lord, and the care of them is with the Most High. Therefore they shall receive the Kingdom of majesty and the crown of comeliness from the Lord's hand, for with His right hand shall He cover them, and with His arm shall He protect them. He shall take to Him His jealousy for complete armour, and make creation His weapon for the warding off of His enemies. HE shall put on righteousness as a breastplate, and true judgment instead of a helmet. He shall take holiness for an invincible shield…
THE LIFE OF HOLY GREAT MARTYR AND HEALER SAINT PANTELEIMON
Saint Panteleimon was born in the city of Nicomedia into the family of the illustrious pagan Eustorgios, and he was named Pantoleon. His mother Saint Eubula (+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, a pagan, sent Pantoleon to a pagan school, after which the young man studied medicine at Nicomedia under the renowned physician Euphrosynos. St. Panteleimon came to the attention of the pagan Roman Emperor Maximian (284-305 AD), who wished to appoint him as royal physician when he finished his schooling. He soon became equally as talented as his teacher. He loved his chosen profession. He was the envy of all other physicians, and was admired by everyone. His reputation as a skilled physician eventually quickly spread throughout the empire.
As young Panteleimon left his home each morning to go about his appointed rounds, he was observed by a pious old man by the name of Ermolaos, who lived just across the street. The Hieromartyrs Hermolaos, Hermippos and Hermokrates, survivors of the massacre of 20.000 Christians in 303 AD (December 28), were living secretly in Nicomedia at that time. Saint Hermolaos saw Pantoleon when he also 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 Hermolaos 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 prayers 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 Hermolaos with the name Panteleimon (meaning "all-merciful"). Speaking with Eustorgios, 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 Hermolaos together with the man whose sight was restored.
His father did convert to Christianity as well. However, 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 Saint 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 holy Martyr remained unhurt, and denounced the Emperor. At this time the priests Hermolaos, Hermippos and Hermokrates were brought before the court of the pagans. All three confessed their faith in the Savior Christ and were beheaded (+July 26th).
By order of the Emperor Maximian they brought the Great Holy 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 Holy Martyr Panteleimon. They led the Saint to the place of execution and tied him to an olive tree. While the Holy 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 Heavenly 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 (olives). 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 Lawrence, Bassos and Probus witnessed his execution and heard the Voice from Heaven saying "Well done Panteleimon". As the head of Saint Panteleimon fell, tradition tells us that milk flowed from the Saintly body of Panteleimon instead of blood. He suffered holy Martyrdom on July 27, 304 A.D. at the young age of 29. They recorded the life, the suffering and death of the Saint.
Portions of the holy relics of the Great Holy Martyr and Healer Panteleimon were distributed throughout the Christian world. His venerable head (Kara) is now located at the Russian Monastery of Saint Panteleimon on Mt. Athos.
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 the first name Pantoleon, which means "a lion in everything". His second name, Panteleimon, given him at Baptism, which means "all merciful", is manifested 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 i.e., Sacrament of Holy Oil or Holy Unction, at the Blessing of Water, and in the Prayer for the sick.
The Holy Gospel Lesson for the Feast Day of Saint Panteleimon is from Saint John Chapter 15 starting at verse 17 through Chapter 16, verse 2.
"These things I command you, that you love one another. If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than His Lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you…"
The Epistle Lesson for the Feast day is from Saint Paul's letter to Saint Timothy Chapter 2:1-10.
"You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard of me among many witnesses, the same you should commit to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. You therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ…"
Just as Jesus Christ healed the sick, and eventually suffered death at the hands of sinners, so did Saint Panteleimon suffer, and was rewarded for his suffering by a heavenly confirmation of his service to Jesus Christ.
Saint Paul said in the epistle for the feast day: "Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." As the soldiers watched Saint Panteleimon and the heavy stone float in the river, many of them turned to Jesus Christ.
APOLYTIKION (DISMISSAL) HYMN
O Holy prizewinner and healer Panteleimon, intercede with the merciful God that He grant into our souls forgiveness of offences.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God