St. Pantaleon’s Blood Has Liquefied Again

July 29, 2022
Ampulla of the blood of Saint Pantaleon preserved in Ravello

For almost five centuries, at the Monastery of the Incarnation in Madrid, the blood of Saint Pantaleon has liquefied, punctually, every July 27. The martyr doctor never ceases to amaze science.

Under normal conditions, the blood of this saint, a third-century physician and martyr during the Diocletian persecution, remains in a solid state, with a concave surface and a brownish color. When not on display, the ampulla containing this blood is kept in the reliquary chapel behind the church altarpiece, which also houses 2,000 other relics of saints.

The martyr's blood arrived in Spain shortly after the convent was founded in 1616, by Juan de Zúñiga, Viceroy of Naples, who had received it as a gift from Pope Paul V. In turn, he donated it to his daughter, Doña Aldonza, one of the first nuns to live in this cloister.

On July 27, the day when the Church celebrates the feast of St. Pantaleon, the blood becomes liquid, increases in volume and changes from a dark brown to a brighter red. Since there is only a small amount of blood, the miracle is not visible from afar.

However, in the cathedral of Ravello, Italy, from where the relic comes, is preserved the largest vial of this blood in Christianity. On the same date and at the same times as in Madrid, in this reliquary, the blood starts “bubbling,” as if the saint's heart were still beating and pumping.

St. Pantaleon, a Martyr Doctor

St. Pantaleon (Panteleimon in the Christian East) was born in the second half of the 3rd century in Asia Minor, probably in Nicomedia, then the imperial capital of the East, into a wealthy family close to the court. His father may have also been a doctor. His son applied himself to medical studies and entered the curial environment.

While Diocletian, who came to power in 284, was not always hostile to the Christians, who were very numerous if not the majority in this eastern part of the Roman Empire, in his old age, and under the influence of his son-in-law then successor, César Galère, he ended up becoming more severe.

In February 303, edicts were published prohibiting the exercise of Catholic worship, closing churches slated for demolition, confiscating holy books and the archives of communities, depriving Christians of good birth of all their rights and privileges, reducing the humble to slavery, before sending them all to death.

Pantaléon, renouncing his brilliant future and converted. He asked for baptism. Some of his colleagues, jealous of his success, discovered his membership of the forbidden faith and denounced him to Galère. By denouncing Pantaleon, his colleagues knew well that they were consigning him to death and that it would be horrible, in order to make him an example.

On July 27, 305, Galerius had him executed. According to custom, the faithful collected the blood of the martyr in a vial placed near his body in his tomb. At the end of the persecutions, Pantaleon relics begin to be dispersed. The famous vial of blood arrived in Rapallo in Italy. And the bishops would soon make a disturbing discovery.

Every summer, on the martyr’s feast day, when the relic is exhibited, the blood liquefies and turns bright red again, like that of St. January in Naples, but there are no bad surprises announcing catastrophes to be feared. The miracle always occurs every July 27 but also, when the holy doctor heals a faithful who has come to implore him, whatever the date.

The bishops of Ravello collected drops of this blood to be offered to other dioceses, including Padua and Madrid, as mentioned above. Infallibly, whether in Madrid or Ravello, Pantaleon’s blood, at the exact second, becomes liquid and red again. And it happened this year in both places. No explanation has yet been found for the miracle.