Commemorated on February 15
The Disciple from
the 70 Onysimos in his youth was a servant of Philemon, a Christian of
distinguished lineage, living in the city of Phrygian Colossa. Guilty of an
offense against his master and fearing punishment, Saint Onysimos fled to Rome,
but as a runaway slave he wound up in prison there. In prison he encountered
the Apostle Paul held in chains, was enlightened by him and accepted holy
Baptism. In prison Saint Onysimos served the Apostle Paul like a son. The
Apostle Paul was personally acquainted with Philemon, and wrote him a letter
filled with love, asking him to forgive the runaway slave and to accept him
like a brother; he dispatched Saint Onysimos with this letter to his master,
depriving himself of help, in which he was very much in need.
having received the letter, not only forgave Onysimos, but also dispatched him
to sail back to Rome to the first-rank apostle. Saint Philemon was afterwards
ordained bishop of the city of Gaza (Comm. 4 January, 19 February and
After the death of
the Apostle Paul, Saint Onysimos served the apostles until their end, and he
was ordained bishop by them. After the death of the holy apostles he preached
the Gospel in many lands and cities: in Spain, Carpetania, Colossa, Patras. In
his old age, Saint Onysimos occupied the bishop's throne at Ephesus, in succession
after the Disciple Timothy. When they took Ignatios the God-Bearer to Rome for
execution, Bishop Onysimos came to meet with him with certain Christians, about
which Saint Ignatios makes mention in his Epistle to the Ephesians.
During the reign of
the emperor Trajan, Saint Onysimos was arrested and brought to trial before the
eparch Tertillus. He held the saint for 18 days in prison, and then sent him
for imprisonment to the city of Putiola. After a certain while, the eparch sent
for the prisoner and, convincing himself that Saint Onysimos quite firmly
confessed his faith in Christ, had him subjected to a fierce beating with
stones, after which they beheaded the saint with a sword. A certain illustrious
woman took the body of the martyr and placed it in a silver coffin. This was in
about the year 109.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.