Saint Pamphilus (Πάμφιλος) (latter half of the 3rd century – martyred February, 309), was a presbyter of Caesarea and chief among Catholic Biblical scholars of his generation. He was the friend and teacher of Eusebius of Caesarea, who recorded details of his career in a three-book "Vita" that has been lost.
Eusebius' "Martyrs of Palestine," attests that Pamphilus was of a rich and honorable family of Beirut, but the assertion that he gave all his property to the poor and attached himself to the "perfect men" does not square with his magnificent patronage of the library at Caesarea and his constant generosity to scholars through his lifetime. Photius, quotes Pamphilus's "Apology for Origen" to the effect that Pamphilus went to Alexandria, where his teacher was Pierius, the head of the famous catechetical school there, before settling in Caesarea Maritima, where he was ordained a priest. In Alexandria, Egypt, Pamphilus became devoted to the works of Origen of Alexandria.
Among other priceless lost treasures in the library, Jerome knew the copy of the Aramaic (so-called "Hebrew") text of the Gospel of Matthew (See Gospel of the Hebrews.) Eusebius refers to the catalogue of the library that he appended to his life of Pamphilus. A passage from the lost life, quoted by Jerome, describes how Pamphilus supplied poor scholars with the necessaries of life, and, not merely lent, but gave them copies of the Scriptures, of which he kept a large supply. He likewise bestowed copies on women devoted to study. The great treasure of the library at Caesarea was Origen's own copy of the "Hexapla," probably the only complete copy ever made. It was consulted by Jerome.
The collections of the library suffered during the persecutions under the Emperor Diocletian, but was repaired subsequently by bishops of Caesarea. It was noted in the 6th century, but Henry Barclay Swete was of the opinion that probably did not long survive the capture of Caesarea by the Saracens in 638, though a modern historian would attribute more destruction to its previous capture by the Sassanid Persians.
The Diocletian persecution began in earnest in the year 303. In 306 a young man named Apphianus – a disciple of Pamphilus "while no one was aware; he even concealed it from us who were even in the same house"–interrupted the governor in the act of offering sacrifice, and paid for his boldness with a terrible martyrdom. His brother Aedesius, also a disciple of Pamphilus, suffered martyrdom about the same time at Alexandria under similar circumstances. St Pamphilus's turn came in November, 307. He was brought before Urbanus, the governor of Palestine, and upon refusing to offer sacrifice, was cruelly tortured, and then relegated to prison. In prison he continued copying and correcting manuscripts. He also composed, in collaboration with Eusebius, also imprisoned, an "Apology for Origen" in five books, which Eusebius edited and to which he added a sixth book. St Pamphilus and other members of his household, along with Valens, deacon of the Church of Jerusalem and Paul of Jamnia, men "in the full vigour of mind and body," were without further torture sentenced to be beheaded in February, 309. While sentence was being given a youth named Porphyrius – "the slave of Pamphilus," "the beloved disciple of Pamphilus," who "had been instructed in literature and writing" – demanded the bodies of the confessors for burial. He was cruelly tortured and put to death, the news of his martyrdom being brought to Pamphilus before his own execution.