The saint's last words are the reason why Orthodox Christians invoke his name at such times as these.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Eastern Orthodox Christians have been encouraged to pray St. Charalambos, whose protection is always sought during health crises.
This bishop of Magnesia in Thessaly (a former Roman province, located in modern-day Greece) preached the Gospel of Christ in the 2nd century. Born in 89, he was arrested at the venerable age of 113, when the news of his sermons reached the ears of Roman authorities. Throughout his trial, Charalambos professed his faith in Christ and refused to sacrifice to the false gods. He was then subjected to cruel torture. After his body had been lacerated and his skin scraped by iron hooks, the saint humbly declared to his tormentors: “Thank you, my brethren, for scraping off the old body and renewing my soul for new and eternal life”.
The powerful last words of St. Charalambos
Later Charalambos was brought before the emperor, Septimius Severus, and additional barbaric tortures were inflicted on him. He was finally condemned to death and led to the place of execution. There, Charalambos prayed to God that the region where he would be buried would never suffers from famine or disease. Having uttered these words, the saint died before the executioner could behead him.
St. Charalambos is celebrated on February 10. Today, his skull is reserved at the Monastery of St. Stephen of Meteora in Greece. His other holy relics can be found in numerous churches throughout the world. For years this saint, venerated all over Greece, has been invoked to put an end to the spread of disease.
Here is a short prayer to Saint Charalambos, you can recite during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Let us sing to Charalambos, the victorious martyr of Christ,
and the miracle making doctor of the soul and the body.
You who pour upon us the great torrent of healings,
deliver us from passions, illness, and demons,
those who cry out: Rejoice, O holy martyr Charalambos.