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Saint Pancras or Pancratius (Greek: , Agios Pankratios; ; ; , Svyatui Pankratiy) is said to have been born in Antiochmarker in Cilicia (the modern Adanamarker). According to tradition, he travelled to Jerusalemmarker with his parents during the earthly ministry of Jesus; later the entire family was baptized in Antioch. Pancras withdrew to a cave in Pontus where he was discovered by Saint Peter and was sent to Sicily in the year 40 to be the first Bishop of Tauromenium (the modern Taorminamarker). There he met his death by stoning at the hands of Pagan opponents of the new religion.

Veneration

He is venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, his cult being concentrated on the island of Sicily, where the veneration of saints from the eastern Mediterranean was particularly encouraged during the period of Byzantine rule. He is the patron saint of Taormina, and Canicattìmarker. His feast day was entered into the Roman Martyrology as April 3; recently this was amended to July 8. More often he is celebrated on July 9, the traditional day of his martyrdom. The larger portion of his relics are preserved at Rome.

The Eastern Orthodox Church venerates him as a Hieromartyr on July 9 (July 22, N.S.). The Greek calendar also commemorates, on June 7, the holy women Aesia and Susanna, disciples of Pancras and martyred with him. A portion of his relics are kept on Mount Athos.

Saint Pancras of Taormina should not be confused with Saint Pancras of Rome, a young man who was martyred by being beheaded around the year 304.

Depiction in art

Entrance to Church of San Pancrazio, Taormina.
In iconography, St Pancras is depicted as an old man with yellowing grey hair, vested as a bishop, holding a cross in his right hand, and a Gospel book in his left. The cross commemorates a miracle attributed to St Pancras whereby he saved the city of Taormina from destruction by the Pagan commander Aquilinus. The Gospel represents his preaching of the Christian faith.

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