Lives of Saints - Saints Theophanes and Pansemne Christianity - Books
I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.                You shall have no other gods before me.                You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:                you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them, for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me,                and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.                You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain, for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.                Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.                You shall labor six days, and do all your work,                but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your livestock, nor your stranger who is within your gates;                for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day, and made it holy.                Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which Yahweh your God gives you.                You shall not murder.                You shall not commit adultery.                You shall not steal.                You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.                You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.
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Saints Theophanes and Pansemne

The Christian doctrine which was introduced by St. Peter to the ancient city of Antioch, Syria, where he remained for seven years, seems to have been wasted on some people. This includes a woman of the fourth century named Pansemne whose early life belied the name applied to her which translates into "All-virtuous" or "Most-revered." Even by today's standards of permissiveness, she was anything but what her name stood for; but she was to vindicate herself eventually and prove that her name had not been misapplied.

Pansemne is reported to have been a girl of considerable charm which she put to nefarious purpose in the oldest profession. Among those who sought her favor were some of the wealthiest men of the city with the result that she was able to maneuver herself into sizable holdings in spite of her lack of respectability. The best that could be said of her was that she catered to high society, but she would have been less offensive to God had she been a woman of the streets.

While thus engaged, Pansemne was unaware that a young man who had held no early promise, but had turned to Christ in repentance, was to come into her life and alter the course and purpose of her existence through true discovery of the Messiah. This young man's name was Theophanes, which means the appearance of God; and in his early years it should have been the disappearance of God. His life was anything but exemplary, but he turned to Christ in plenty of time to make amends and to achieve a spiritual attainment which wiped clean the slate of his youthful sins.

A thoroughly trained ascetic, Theophanes loved his monastic retreat but preferred to venture into the city to be of more practical as well as spiritual help. It was during one of his visits to the city that he learned of the unsavory life of Pansemne; but when he expressed a wish to bring her the hope of the Savior for sinners, he was told it would be a waste of time. Undiscouraged, he sought out the lady in question, somewhat awed by the splendor of her household but considerably less impressed by her guests.

We can assume that Pansemne's reaction to the sight of an ill-clad Theophanes, hardly her type of caller, was one of amusement. But this gave way soon enough to deep respect after hearing the learned monk speak. Unaccustomed to this type of conversation and gradually over-awed by the compelling reasoning of this better-than qualified theologian, she found herself for the first time in her life filled with mixed emotions. She chided herself for even considering her way of life to be something bordering on the criminal, but gradually the gnawing doubts about herself grew stronger; and before the ascetic was through talking, he saw before him a thoroughly repentant woman. Consumed by a sense of guilt, she expressed doubt that the Savior could forgive her, but wept openly when Theophanes said that with faith in the Savior she could become clean enough to become a bride, a testimony of which, he even offered to marry her himself.

Convinced that her desire to make amends was sincere, Theophanes asked Pansemne to dispose of her worldly goods and, that accomplished, to report to him at his monastery. In a few short days the once glamorous society belle came to the monastery where she found her benefactor in his usual tattered robes, but this time the situation was reversed. It was she who now asked what she could do to give herself over to Christ completely. After a brief explanation, she was taken to a small cloister not far from the monastery and placed in the care of the few nuns who had taken up a vigil for Christ there.

Pansemne amazed herself with this transformation, but the nuns saw nothing extraordinary in a fallen woman praying in repentance. What they considered extraordinary was the sincerity of this truly repentant woman who spent her waking hours in supplication and so bearing herself that one would have thought that she had been born and raised in a nunnery. Through all this, it became evident that she was clearly favored by the Lord and was looked upon with deepest respect. It would have been scorn but for the intercession of the ascetic. And as if by divine edict, less than two years had passed when both Pansemne and Theophanes died on the same day, June 23.


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