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July 9, 2018

Holy Hieromartyr Pankratios, Bishop of Taormina

St. Pankratios of Taormina (Feast Day - July 9)


Pankratios set himself as a foundation,
By his contest he built a house of stones.
On the ninth Pankratios saw clearly the All-Powerful.

This Saint lived in the time of the Lord and the Holy Apostles, and was from Antioch. Hearing about the miracles of Christ, the parents of Pankratios desired to see the Lord Jesus. Together with Pankratios, they traveled to Jerusalem where they saw Jesus, heard His words and witnessed His miracles. It was in Jerusalem that Pankratios became acquainted with the Apostle Peter. After the Ascension of the Lord, both parents and Pankratios were baptized in Antioch.

After his parents died, the Saint abandoned all worldly things and went to the area of the Black Sea. Pankratios withdrew to a cave in Pontus where the Apostle Peter found him, and together they returned to Antioch, and from Antioch they went to the area of Cilicia. There they encountered the Apostle Paul, and he was appointed as the Bishop of Taormina in Sicily (Crescens was also appointed Bishop of Galatia and Marcian was appointed Bishop of Syracuse at this time). From there he boarded the ship of Lykianidus and Romulus and went to Taormina. In Taormina, Pankratios worked many miracles, destroyed the idols, baptized the unbaptized, strengthened the baptized, governed well the Church of God, and had a church built within thirty days.

A heathen commander by the name of Aquilinus heard that the entire city of Taormina became Christian and set out with an entire army against this city in order to destroy it. Bishop Pankratios encouraged the faithful not to be afraid and he, alone, with the clergy went outside the city carrying in his hands the invincible weapon, the Honorable Cross. When the army approached the city, darkness befell them and the soldiers were overcome with great fear. A great confusion then began among them and the attackers turned against one another and pierced and slaughtered each other with their swords. Thus Pankratios, the chosen one of God, saved the city and his flock by the power of his prayer before the Lord.

Though Pankratios rid the city of paganism, certain followers of Montanism remained in the city, and they opposed Bishop Pankratios. Wanting to get rid of him, they took a certain general named Artagalus, and killed the Holy Hierarch of Christ by stoning (though icons depict him either being beheaded or strangled). In this way he departed to the Lord and received from Him the crown of martyrdom.

Church of St. Pancratius in Taormina

Saint Pankratios is also commemorated on February 9th. Portions of his relics can be found in Rome and Mount Athos. Saint Pankratios, or Pancras, of Taormina should not be confused with Saint Pancras of Rome, a fourteen year old lad who was martyred by being beheaded around the year 304.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
O follower of the chief Apostle, thou wast clothed with divine power from on high. Thy sacred vestments were dyed with the streams of thy blood. O Father Pankratios, pray to Christ our God that He will save our souls.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Thou wast a martyr for Christ, O Pankratios, and a bright star for the people of Taormina. Intercede for those who venerate thee, for thou ever standest in His Presence.