Monday, November 25, 2013

Saint Pancratius

Not many facts are known about St. Pancratius, because he was born so long ago.  Legend has it,however, that he was born at the end of the 3rd century in Synnada, Phrygia, a kingdom in what is now Turkey.  His Greek name means “the one who holds everything.” After his parents died, his
uncle Dionysius brought him to Rome where he raised him up.  Meeting early Christians, St.Pancras, as he was also called, was impressed by their fervor. Also influenced his uncle, he converted to Christianity, a dangerous decision during the reign of Deocletian who launched the most violent persecutions of Christians. Nevertheless, fearless St. Pancras did not hesitate to announce his new-found faith in public. It didn’t take long for the emperor’s minions to arrest him. True to form, they beheaded St. Pancratius notwithstanding his young age.  He was only 14. 

What an early age to suffer a brutal death, so young to be martyred! His remains were buried in a cemetery that was later named in his honor.       

Although not many people around the world know St. Pancratius, this saint holds a special place
in    England thanks to the Benedictine monk, Augustine of Canterbury, who dedicated his first
church to the young martyr.  Not only that, the relics of the saint were given as gifts to the
king of Northumberland, a region in England.  A district in London is named after St. Pancras,
evidence of his popularity among the British people.

An advocate of young soldiers, St. Pancratius is their inspiration to be brave amid danger.
Likewise, he is an advocate for children and teen-agers to remain steadfast and unwavering in
their faith when faced with life’s trials and temptations. It is not clear why but St. Pancratius
is the favorite saint for job-seekers and workers who ask for his intercession in their quest for
work or a source of livelihood.   As if these weren’t plenty enough, he is also the patron saint
invoked against cramps and headache as well as perjurers and false witnesses.

Religious portrayals of St. Pancras show him with a book in his hands with the Latin inscription,
"Venite Ad Me et Ego dabo vobis omnia bona" meaning, Come to me and I will give all that is good.
St. Pancratius's right index finger is pointed to heaven to indicate that it is God who made the
promise. He is also depicted wearing a red cape like the kind worn by centurions (Roman soldiers)
and holding a palm leaf to show he was martyred.   His feast day is May 12.


 It is in older martyrs and saints that we find the admirable ability to transcend death for the
love of God. But in one so young to forsake life and whatever sweet promises it has to offer?
That’s why I find the story of St. Pancratius so refreshing.  It’s so nice to know of a young
saint barely in his teens, who wasn’t scared to offer his life for Jesus Christ.