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The later saint (regionally also Pankraz or Gratz) was born around 290 in Phrygia in today's Turkey as son of a rich Roman and suffered martyrdom in Rome around 304 already at a very young age. According to legend he travelled to Rome with his uncle Dionys in 303. The name means "the one who defeats all". With his inherited fortune he helped the persecuted Christians there, especially the prisoners for the sake of their faith. After the death of the uncle, Pancrasius was seized by one of the persecution orders of Emperor Diocletian (236-312) and brought before the emperor. Despite all temptations, the 14-year-old did not allow himself to be dissuaded from his faith, so he was publicly beheaded and then his body was thrown to the dogs to eat. In 500 a church was built over his grave, on the site of which the present church of San Pancrazio stands.

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