Commemorated on May 4
Saint Erasmus zealously served the Lord from the time of his youth. And in his mature years he was elevated to the dignity of bishop of the city of Formium (Italy). During the time of a persecution against Christians under the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian Hercules (284-305), Saint Erasmus left his diocese and withdrew onto Mount Libanus, where he hid for seven years. One time however an Angel appeared to him and said: "Erasmus! No one vanquishes enemies, if he is asleep. Go into your own city, pursue it bravely and thou shalt vanquish thine enemies". Heeding the voice of the Angel, Saint Erasmus left his seclusion. The first ones who asked him about his faith were soldiers, having encountered him along the way. Saint Erasmus confessed himself a Christian. They took him to trial at Antioch to the emperor Diocletian, before whom the saint fearlessly confessed his faith in Christ and audaciously denounced the emperor for his impiety. Saint Erasmus was subjected to fearsome tortures, but remained unbending. After the tortures the saint was bound in iron chains and thrown into prison, whither in miraculous form there appeared an Angel, saying: "Follow after me – I lead thee to Italy. There thou shalt bring many people to salvation". In the city of Lycia Saint Erasmus preached boldly to the people about Christ and raised up the son of a certain illustrious citizen. After this miracle at Lycia 10,000 men were baptised. The emperor of the Western half of the Roman empire – Maximian Hercules, gave orders to seize the saint and bring him to trial. And in front of this emperor Saint Erasmus also bravely confessed his faith. They beat him and threatened him with crucifixion if he did not recant from Christ. They then forced him to go to an idolatrous temple, but along the going of the saint all the idols situated there fell and were destroyed, and from the temple there came fire which fell upon many of the pagans. Having been set free, Saint Erasmus baptised many pagans, and afterwards went to the city of Sirmium, where he was again seized and subjected to torture. They seated him in a red-hot oven, but he remained alive and unharmed. This miracle so shook up those were presiding, that the emperor, fearing civil unrest, retired into his own chambers. The Angel freed Saint Erasmus from his fetters and took him to the city of Formium, i.e. to his own diocese, where the saint baptised many people. The saint died there in the year 303. Christians buried the remains of the holy priestmartyr with honour.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.