St. Pantaleon was born in Nicomedia, near the Black Sea in Asia. He was the son of a rich pagan, Eustorgius of Nicomedia, and a Christian mother, Saint Eubula, who instructed him in the faith, but died while he was still a child.
Pantaleon studied medicine with such great success that he was appointed as one of the court physicians to the Emperor Galerius Maximianus. The bad influence of the pagan court caused him to fall away from his Faith. A holy and zealous priest named Hermolaos helped him realize the error of his sinful ways by pointing out the example of his virtuous mother. Pantaleon returned to the Faith once more and imitated Our Lord's charity by distributing his goods among the poor and caring for the poor and the sick without charge.
When the Emperor Diocletian began his persecution, Pantaleon was accused of being a Christian. He was given the choice of denying his faith or being put to death, but no torture could force Pantaleon to deny his Faith. Pantaleon, openly confessed his Faith, and to prove that Christ is the true God, he healed a paralytic. However, the emperor viewed the miracle as a display of magic.
According to legend, Pantaleon's flesh was first burned with torches, but Christ was present with him, giving him the strength to withstand the torture. After this, when a bath of liquid lead was prepared, the fire went out and the lead became cold. He was now thrown into the sea, but the stone with which he was loaded floated. He was thrown to the wild beasts but these fawned upon him and could not be forced away until he had blessed them. He was bound on the wheel, but the ropes snapped, and the wheel broke. An attempt was made to behead him, but the sword bent, and the executioners were converted. Pantaleon implored heaven to forgive them, for which reason he also received the name of Panteleimon ("mercy for everyone" or "all-compassionate"). It was not until he himself desired it that it was possible to behead him. St. Pantaleon died around 305 A.D. He is the patron of physicians and belongs to the "Fourteen Holy Helpers." In the East, St. Pantaleon is called the "Great Marytr and Wonder-worker.
Patronage: bachelors; consumption; doctors; midwives; physicians; torture victims; tuberculosis; protection of domestic animals.
Conversion of St Pantaleon 1587-88
Oil on canvas, 277 x 160 cm
San Pantaleone, Venice