The Holy Martyr Pancratius was a native of Phrygia, but lived in Rome with his uncle Dionysius after his parents died. They heard Bishop Cornelius preach, and were later baptized.
The fourteen-year-old youth suffered martyrdom at Rome during the persecution under Diocletian (284-305). He was buried on the Via Aurelia, and a church was built over his grave. The Aurelian gate is known today as the Porta St Pancrazio.
St Gregory Dialogus (March 12) venerated St Pancratius, who was beheaded near the site of his monastery, and had a silver reliquary made for the martyr’s head. After St Gregory became bishop, the reliquary was placed in his cathedral on the Lateran hill. The reliquary was returned to the church of St Pancratius in the twentieth century.
When St Augustine of Canterbury (May 26) arrived in Britain, he transformed a pagan temple into a Christian church, dedicating it to St Pancratius. St Augustine built another church in honor of St Pancratius outside London. This church, which contains an old altar stone, is now called “Old St Pancras.”
The holy martyr Pancratius is especially venerated by the Western Church, where he is known as St Pancras.