Great-martyr Artemius at Antioch; St. Gerasimus the New, ascetic of Cephalonia

Great-martyr Artemius at Antioch was a prominent military leader during the reigns of the emperor Constantine the Great (May 21), and his son and successor Constantius (337-361). Artemius received many awards for distinguished service and courage. He was appointed viceroy of Egypt. In this official position he did much for the spreading and strengthening Christianity in Egypt.

St Artemius was sent by the emperor Constantius to bring the relics of the holy Apostle Andrew from Patras, and the relics of the holy Apostle Luke from Thebes of Boeotia, to Constantinople. The holy relics were placed in the Church of the Holy Apostles beneath the table of oblation. The emperor rewarded him by making him ruler of Egypt.

The emperor Constantius was succeeded on the throne by Julian the Apostate (361-363). Julian in his desire to restore paganism was extremely antagonistic towards Christians, sending hundreds to their death. At Antioch he ordered the torture of two bishops unwilling to forsake the Christian Faith.

During this time, St Artemius arrived in Antioch and publicly denounced Julian for his impiety. The enraged Julian subjected the saint to terrible tortures and threw the Great Martyr Artemius into prison.

While Artemius was praying, Christ, surrounded by angels, appeared to him and said, “Take courage, Artemius! I am with you and will preserve you from every hurt which is inflicted upon you, and I already have prepared your crown of glory. Since you have confessed Me before the people on earth, so shall I confess you before My Heavenly Father. Therefore, take courage and rejoice, you shall be with Me in My Kingdom.”

Hearing this, Artemius rejoiced and offered up glory and thanksgiving to Him.

On the following day, Julian demanded that St Artemius honor the pagan gods. Meeting with steadfast refusal, the emperor resorted to further tortures. The saint endured all without a single moan.

The saint told Julian that he would be justly recompensed for his persecution of Christians. Julian became furious and resorted to even more savage tortures, but they did not break the will of the saint. Finally the Great Martyr Artemius was beheaded.

His relics were buried by Christians. After the death of St Artemius, his prophecy about Julian the Apostate’s impending death came true.

Julian left Antioch for a war with the Persians. Near the Persian city of Ctesiphon, Julian came upon an elderly Persian, who agreed to betray his countrymen and guide Julian’s army. The old man deceived Julian and led his army into the Karmanite wilderness, where there was neither food nor water. Tired from hunger and thirst, Julian’s army battled against fresh Persian forces.

Divine retribution caught up with Julian the Apostate. During the battle he was mortally wounded by an unseen hand and an unseen weapon. Julian groaned deeply said, “You have conquered, Galilean!” After the death of the apostate emperor, the relics of the Great Martyr Artemius were transferred with honor from Antioch to Constantinople.

St. Gerasimus the New, ascetic of Cephalonia was born in the village of Trikkala in the Peloponessos. As a young adult, he became a monk on the island of Zakynthos. On the Holy Mountain he became a schemamonk and studied with the ascetics of Mt Athos.

Receiving a blessing from the Elders, the monk went to Jerusalem to worship at the Life-bearing Tomb of the Savior. After visiting many holy places in Jerusalem, Mount Sinai, Antioch, Damascus, Alexandria and Egypt, he returned to Jerusalem where he became a lamp-lighter at the Sepulchre of the Lord.

The monk was ordained a deacon and then a priest by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Germanus (1534-1579). Saint Gerasimus maintained the discipline of an ascetic. For solitude he withdrew to the Jordan, where he spent forty days without respite. Having received the Patriarch’s blessing for a life of silence, Saint Gerasimus withdrew to Zakynthos in solitude, eating only vegetation.

After five years he was inspired to go the island of Cephalonia, where he lived in a cave. He restored a church at Omala, and he founded a women’s monastery where he lived in constant toil and vigil for thirty years. He prayed on bent knees stretched out on the ground. For his exalted life he was granted a miraculous gift: the ability to heal the sick and cast out unclean spirits.

At 71 years of age, the venerable Gerasimus knew that he would soon die. He gave his blessing to the nuns and peacefully fell asleep in the Lord on August 15, 1579. Two years later, his grave was opened and his holy relics were found fragrant and incorrupt with a healing power.

Since the Feast of the Dormition falls on August 15, Saint Gerasimus is commemorated on August 16th. Today’s Feast celebrates the uncovering of his holy relics in 1581.

Tr by oca.org

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