|St. Pancharios the Martyr (Feast Day - March 19)|
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
Pancharios was born in Villach, Germany [present day Austria]. He was a high-ranking officer at the court of Diocletian and Maximian. At first, he denied Christ but, being counseled by his mother and sister, he returned to the Faith of Christ and died for it in the year 302 A.D.
"That mercy [of God] that resurrects us and against which we sin later on is even greater then that mercy that He bestowed upon us before He gave us being; when we did not exist. Glory O Lord to Your immeasurable mercy!" Thus speaks St. Isaac the Syrian. He wants to say that greater is the mercy that God showed toward us when, through Christ, He saved us from the corruption of sin and death, than when He created us out of nothing. Truly, it is so. Even our earthly parents show greater mercy to the perverted and fallen son when they embrace him again, forgive him all, make him civilized, cleanse him, heal him and again make him their heir, than when they gave him birth.
When the young Pancharios, surrounded by royal honors, denied Christ, his mother wrote him a letter full of pain and sorrow. "Do not be afraid of men," wrote his mother, "but it is essential to fear God's judgment. You should have confessed your faith in Christ before emperors and lords and not to have denied Him. Remember His words: `But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before My heavenly Father'" (Matt. 10:33). Being ashamed of himself, the son accepts the advice of his mother, confessed his faith in Christ before the emperor, and died a martyr's death for Christ in order to live with Him eternally. And so the blessed mother of Pancharios brought about a new birth for her son, a spiritual birth more important than the first, physical birth.