Saint of today, July 7th. We celebrate St Pantaenus

Saint of today, July 7th. We celebrate St Pantaenus


Saint Pantaenus was a Christian theologian and a significant figure in the Catechetical School of Alexandria from around AD 180. This school was the earliest catechetical school, and became influential in the development of Christian theology.

Pantaenus was a Stoic philosopher teaching in Alexandria. He converted to the Christian faith, and sought to reconcile his new faith with Greek philosophy. His most famous student, Clement, who was his successor as head of the Catechetical School, described Pantaenus as “the Sicilian bee”. Although no writings by Pantaenus are extant, his legacy is known by the influence of the Catechetical School on the development of Christian theology, in particular in the early debates on the interpretation of the Bible, the Trinity, and Christology. He was the main supporter of Serapion of Antioch for acting against the influence of Gnosticism.

In addition to his work as a teacher, Eusebius of Caesareareports that Pantaenus was for a time a missionary, traveling as far as India where, according to Eusebius, he found Christian communities using the Gospel of Matthew written in “Hebrew letters”, supposedly left them by the apostle Bartholemew (and which might have been the Gospel of the Hebrews). This may indicate that Syrian Christians, using a Syriac version of the New Testament, had already evangelized parts of India by late 2nd century. However, some writers have suggested that having difficulty with the language of Saint Thomas Christians, Pantaenus misinterpreted their reference to Mar Thoma (Bishop Thomas), who is currently credited with an evangelization mission to India by the Syrian churches, as Bar Tolmai (the Hebrew name of Bartholomew). Others say Eusebius may have confused India with Arabia or Ethiopia as was done by some other Greek writers. St. Thomas Christians themselves have always maintained thatThomas the Apostle himself was the first to bring Christianity to India.

Saint Jerome, apparently relying entirely on Eusebius’ evidence from Historia Ecclesiastica, wrote that Pantaenus visited India, “to preach Christ to the Brahmans and philosophers there. ” It is unlikely that Jerome has any information about Pantaenus’ mission to India that is independent of Eusebius. On the other hand,his claim that “many” of Pantaenus’ Biblical commentaries were still extant is probably based on Jerome’s own knowledge. His feast day is July 7.