Gerasimus, St.

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Famous Palestinian anchorite; b. Lycia, date unknown; d. Palestine, March 5, 475. Gerasimus went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land c. 451 and met St. euthymius the great, who became his fast friend and purged him of the Eutychian (see eutychianism) errors that Gerasimus had unwittingly embraced. Disciples flocked to Gerasimus, and in 455 he founded a monastery near the Jordan. He instituted a strict formation program for his followers. At the end of this training, those who preferred the common life remained in the monastery; those desiring solitude lived in hermitages that Gerasimus had built nearby. These hermits spent five days each week in prayer and labor, without fire or food except bread, palm dates, and water. Weekends they had to return to the common life of the monastery.

Gerasimus took only the Eucharist for nourishment during Lent and at all times set his monks a stern example of fasting and poverty. Legend tells how, like Androcles, he removed a thorn from the paw of a lion, which then served him and the monastery until Gerasimus' death. Confusion of his name with Hieronymus (Jerome) led to the lion being an emblem for St. jerome.

Feast: March 5.

Bibliography: Acta Sanctorum March 1:384387. g. marsot, Catholicisme 4:1873. h. grÉgoire, "La Vie anonyme de S. Gérasime," Byzantinische Zeitschrift 13 (1904) 114135.

[p. w. harkins]