St Pancras healing oil
The St Pancras healing oil is dedicated to the young 3rd century martyr.
Saint Pancras was a Roman citizen. He converted to Christianity, and was beheaded for his faith at the age of fourteen, around the year 304.
From an early stage, Saint Pancras was venerated together with Saints Nereus and Achilleus in a shared feast day.
Since 1969, Saint Pancras has been venerated separately, still on 12 May. He is, traditionally, the second of the Ice Saints..
Pancras was born around 289, at the city of Phrygia Salutaris, to parents of Roman citizenship. His mother Cyriada died during childbirth. His father Cleonius died when Pancras was eight years old. Pancras was entrusted to his uncle Dionysius’ care. They both moved to Rome to live in a villa on the Caelian Hill. They converted to Christianity, and Pancras became a zealous adherent of the religion.
Pancras is martyred
During the persecution of Christians by Emperor Diocletian, around 303 AD, he was brought before the authorities. He was asked to perform a sacrifice to the Roman gods. Diocletian, promised him wealth and power, but Pancras refused. Finally the emperor ordered him to be beheaded.
A Roman matron named Ottavilla recovered Pancras’ body. She covered it with balsam, wrapped it in precious linens, and buried it in a newly built sepulchre. It was dug in the Catacombs of Rome. Pancras’ head was placed in the reliquary that still exists today in the Basilica of Saint Pancras.
Devotion to Pancras definitely existed from the fifth century onwards, for the basilica of Saint Pancras was built by Pope Symmachus (498–514), on the place where the body of the young martyr had been buried. Pope Gregory the Great gave impetus to the cult of Pancras, sending Augustine to England carrying relics of that saint. For this reason, many English churches are dedicated to Pancras. St Pancras Old Church in London is one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in England.
Pancras is popularly venerated as the patron saint of children, jobs and health. His name is also invoked against cramps, false witnesses, headaches and perjury. His image in statue form can be found in many bars, restaurants and other businesses. He is also the patron saint of the Italian city San Pancrazio Salentino.
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.
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