|St. Pancharios the Martyr (Feast Day - March 19)|
Pancharios had all the riches of grace,
Anointed by God's grace on the way to being beheaded.
Anointed by God's grace on the way to being beheaded.
When the emperors Diocletian and Maximian reigned, from the years 286 to 305, which totaled nineteen years, the entire ecumene was full of the delusion of the idols, and every Christian that confessed Christ, was not only deprived of their property and belongings, but they even lost their lives, having first been tried with many and various tortures. At that time lived also Pancharios the Martyr of Christ, who was from the land of the Ousanon, from the city known as Villapati,* and was the son of Christian parents. He was tall and mighty in stature and handsome in appearance. Having gone to Rome, he became friends with Diocletian, became first of the ruling Senators, and was exceedingly loved by the emperor. Because of the exceeding love each shared for one another, Panacharios - alas! - disowned his faith in Christ, and became like-minded with the emperor. The emperor therefore arranged for Pancharios to receive provision-money every year from the empire, some by written apportionment, others by imperial edict, in order that by this he would have every manner of rest and relaxation. This bitter news reached the blessed mother and sister of Pancharios, and they wrote him a letter, advising him to first remember the fear of God, then to remember the fearsome judgment of God, at which time, those who recognized Christ, and boldly confessed Him before emperors and rulers, they will in turn confess on behalf of the Master Christ, and will receive the promise and rest of eternal good things. These were all things he knew very well. To the contrary, those who defied and denied the divinity of Christ, they will receive many judgments against them on that fearsome day of judgment. This also he knew very well. "Whoever confesses Me before others, I will also confess before my Father in heaven. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before My Father in heaven" (Matt. 10:32-33). These are the things they wrote him, as well as the other saying of the Lord which says: "What will it benefit a man, if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 8:36).
Pancharios received this letter and read it. He came to sense the wickedness he fell under, and began to weep and wail. Thus he cast himself to the ground, and said: "Have mercy on me, Almighty Lord, have mercy on me. And do not shame Your servant before angels and men, but be compassionate towards me through Your mercy." When some people of the palace saw him bitterly weeping and saying those words, they revealed it to the emperor. Pancharios therefore stood before him, and the emperor said to him: "Tell me my beloved Pancharios, tell me if perhaps you are a Nazarene?" The Saint replied: "Yes, I am a Nazarene, O emperor, and a Christian." The emperor said to him: "Deny that name Pancharios for the sake of my love. For let it be known to you, that I will not decide for you to receive a swift and quick death, but I will at first unleash upon you many and various tortures." The Saint replied: "I, O emperor, only fear and tremble that until now I became beautiful to you, and for this that fire will come down from heaven and consume me. From now on, I will never deny my Lord Jesus Christ, neither today, nor after many years of you unleashing tortures upon my body, as you say."
The tyrant then ordered for the Saint to be undressed and to be flogged with an ox-hide. And inviting all the ruling Senators, the emperor said to them: "Have you learned that Pancharios the Sakellarios and Skrinarios of the empire has fallen for the religion of the Galileans? Tell me therefore, what shall I do with him?" The rulers responded: "Order, O emperor, for Pancharios to be undressed in the middle of the theater, and to be flogged there. Then send him to Nicomedia, to the ruler there, that he may punish him, so that we do not become participants in his blood, for he was much beloved by you." The emperor liked this decision, for he exceedingly loved him, and did not want to kill him. The Saint therefore stood in the midst of the theater, and he was harshly flogged. The emperor then gave the Martyr over to the soldiers, and sent him with a written letter to the ruler of Nicomedia, in which he ordered him to give the Saint many kinds of deaths.
When the Saint arrived in Nicomedia, and stood before the ruler, he was urged by him to deny, but he replied: "Behold, from the imperial edict you came to know, that I am a Christian, therefore do take care without shame to do what you deem fitting." The ruler asked: "What is your name?" The Martyr replied: "Pancharios is my name, I am a Christian from my forefathers, and because I was conquered by the deceit of the emperor, I became like-minded with him, being like him wickedly and stupidly. Because of this now I am with God, after I was corrected by my mother and sister, and I returned to my Christ and God. Now I seek to die for His name, that with this good confession and death of mine, I will wipe out the denial which I wickedly made."
The ruler said: "Leave these things and do what the emperor ordered, and do not utterly destroy your memory from the earth, you who are a beautiful and handsome man." The Saint replied: "The destruction of which you speak of is temporal, but those who through the love of Christ endure will gain eternal life." Finally, when the ruler saw that the mind of the Martyr could not be changed, he issued a death sentence against him. When the athlete of Christ prayed, he was beheaded in Nicomedia, and the renowned one received the crown of martyrdom.
* No one knows the exact location of this city, but according to St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite, it was probably Villach in Germany, which today is in Austria.