St Pancras

(entered heaven on around 304)

Dear Pam,

True, growth in holiness does take time.  But it seems like you’re using that truth as an excuse to cling to your comfortable, self-indulgent ways.  Frankly, the only thing stopping you from being a saint is, I hate to tell you, yourself.  Why put it off?  Why not follow the example of today’s saint, who showed in his life the truth of Pope Benedict XVI’s resounding affirmation on the day of his installation as the 265th Supreme Pontiff: “Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away and gives everything.”

St Pancras was an orphan born in Palestine, it seems.  His uncle took him to Rome when he was only a boy.  There both of them became Christians.  We don’t know the circumstances of their conversion, but we do know what happened to Pancras.

When Emperor Diocletian tried to rejuvenate his crumbling empire by purifying it of the Christians, he inaugurated the most vicious and universal persecution in history.  We have no way of calculating the number of victims, which certainly reached well into the thousands, but we do know many of their identities.  One of them was St Pancras.  He was just a teenager, a 14-year-old boy when he was rounded up and beheaded along with two former Roman Legionaries, saints Nereus and Achilles.  Years later, Pope Saint Symmachus built a church over his grave, and Pope St Vitalian sent some of his relics to England when St Augustine of Canterbury was initiating the evangelization of the British.

Why was this orphan-martyr so popular?  One of the reasons was his age.  Though his body and mind were immature at the time of his martyrdom, his heart and his soul overflowed with supernatural courage.  He proves beyond a doubt that being a saint is not a task only for “adults”, as you so sophisticatedly put it in your note.

I don’t have any of his relics to send you.  But I can assure you that a prayer for his intercession in your current state of spiritual stagnation will help jumpstart your hunger for holiness.  That, as the Gospel tells us, is the only sure way to find the satisfaction you’re really looking for.

Your loving uncle,


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