Friday, 2 June 2017

Saint Erasmus of Formia

St. Erasmus by the Master of Me├čkirch, c. 1530.
The 2nd of June is the feast day of Saint Elmo, also known as Saint Erasmus of Formia. He is the patron saint of sailors, Gaeta, Formia, colic in children, intestinal ailments and diseases, cramps and the pain of women in labour, cattle pest, Fort St. Elmo, (Malta).

Saint Elmo died in 303 AD. He was an Italian bishop during the reign of the brutal persecution of Christians by the Roman Emperors, Diocletian and Maximian. He fled to Mount Lebanon living there for seven years. However, an angel told him to return to his diocese to vanquish his enemies. As he returned, he was stopped by Roman soldiers whence he declared himself to be a Christian. He was immediately brought to stand trial before Diocletian and Saint Elmo again confessed his faith in Christ, denouncing the emperor for his impiety. He was tortured, thrown into prison but an angel freed him. He worked miracles and baptised thousands of people, was arrested, tortured and again miraculously freed. This happened twice before he arrived back to his own diocese. According to the oldest tradition, he died at peace in Formia, but other accounts said he was disembowelled and died a martyr.

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