Legendary martyr, also known as Erasmus, Rasmus, Ermo. He is probably identified with Erasmus who since the 13th or 14th century has been venerated as one of the fourteen holy helpers. He is reputed to have been the bishop of Formia in the Campagna, and gregory the great stated that his relics were preserved in the cathedral of that town. When Formia was destroyed by the Saracens in 842, Elmo's remains were moved to Gaëta, where he became patron of that city. Nothing else in the fabulous tales told of St. Elmo has any basis in reality; e.g., that he was the bishop of Antioch who underwent many tortures in diocletian's persecution and died after being miraculously transported to Italy. As one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers he finally became a patron against cramps, colic, and all intestinal troubles, and even of women in labor. In Mediterranean countries he became the protector of sailors, and among Neapolitan sailors, the electrical discharges seen around mastheads before and after storms were called st. elmo's fire.
Feast: June 2.
Bibliography: Acta Sanctorum June 1:206–214. o. engels, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10v. (2d. new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 3:955. r. flahaut, S. Érasme (Paris 1895). a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, rev. ed. h. thurston and d. attwater, 4 v. (New York 1956) 2:453–454.
[l. l. rummel]