Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy St Pancras Day

The website of the Diocese of Shrewsbury reminds us that today, 12 May, is St Pancras Day. I have always thought it should be a bank holiday in the East Midlands.

That website (from which I have also borrowed the illustration) tells us all about the saint's life and martyrdom:
St Pancras was boy of 14 years of age when he was beheaded for his faith in 304 under the persecution of the Emperor Diocletian, the last, largest and bloodiest official persecution of Christians in the history of the Roman Empire. 
Like many of the Roman martyrs, details of the life of St Pancras are few and his “acts” bear anachronisms that cast doubt on the veracity of every point. It has been traditionally taught, however, that St Pancras was born to Roman parents in either Syria or Phrygia, present-day Turkey, but was brought to Rome by an uncle after he was orphaned. 
There, both of them converted to Christianity, with Pancras suffering death on the Via Aurelia in the second year of the eight-year Diocletian persecution.
It goes on to explain why there is a London railway terminus named after the lad:
St Augustine of Canterbury, the Benedictine monk and “Apostle to the English” dispatched to Britain by St Gregory, dedicated the first church he built upon arriving in Kent to St Pancras. Fifty years later Pope St Vitalian made a gift of some relics of the martyr to Oswy, the King of Northumberland, an act which helped to propagate the cult to St Pancras in England. 
One of the oldest churches in London is named after St Pancras and it gives his name to the area now famous for its railway station.
This blog has tried and failed to get inside the original St Pancras church - not to be confused with the later one on the Euston Road.

But Lord Bonkers will be pleased to learn that Pancras was the first Well-Behaved Orphan.

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