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Who was Pantaleon?
Traditionally, Pantaleon is remembered as the personal doctor of Emperor Maximian at the time of the third and fourth century A.D.
Three hundred years after the rule of Julius Caesar or Emperor Augustus, the Roman Empire still continues to exist. The Emperor Diocletian (Maximian) has divided the Empire into two halves. During this period, Milan is the capital city of the Western half, while Nicomedia serves as the Easterm capital. Rome is no longer the capital and Contantinople is still yet to be founded around one generation later by Constantine the Great. Nicomedia, which today is called Izmit at Lake Marmara, is where the young physician Pantaleon was born and lived. His father Eustorgios is a pagan, and his mother Eucuba is a fervent Christian faithful.
The process taking place across the whole Roman Empire is the transition from a pagan society into an constantly persecuted Christian religion. This same process also takes place within the heart of our young hero, Pantaleon. An extraordinary experience leads him to believe in Christ. In his saintly self-forgetfulness, he dedicates his further life to the sick, who admire and love him for his friendliness and his gift of healing. While all people, especially the girls, like him because of his amiability, he sticks to his dedication towards Christ, the Divine Healer. In the iconic paintings of the Orthodox church, Panteleimon (as they call him) is always portrayed as a youthful “Figure of Beauty“, without a beard. On the 27th of July in the year 305 A.D., he dies as a martyr at only 27 years of age. In the Western Church, he is included among the “Fourteen Helpers“, whereas in the orthodox world, he stands in the middle of the Twelve “Anargyroi“ (those who help unselfishly).
(Peter von Steinitz, the author of this novel, was parrish priest in the ancient Basilica of St. Pantaleon in Cologne, Germany from 1987 until 2007)