Saint Erasmus of Formiae (died 303), bishop and martyr of the Church, also known as Saint Elmo. As with many martyrs of the early Church, we known little about their lives and upbringings, but much about their pious and courageous deaths, accounts of which were recorded, believed to be more instructive to the faithful than complete biographies.
The childhood and birthplace of Saint Erasmus is lost to history. In the late third century, we do know that he was appointed bishop of Antioch in Asia Minor, where he led the faithful. When Emperor Diocletian ascended to the throne, widespread persecution of Christians began, and Antioch was not overlooked. Saint Erasmus fled into the mountains of Lebanon, where he undertook an austere life of prayer and fasting, going without food for days at a time. Holy legend tells us that a raven brought him food when he deprived himself for too long. Eventually, however, he was discovered by the soldiers of the emperor and dragged to judgment.
“Almighty God, that made all things, hath wrought heaven and hell and all that is therein, him will I not forsake for no thing that can or may be done to me, for his goodly grace hath given to me such grace, and to other his chosen friends, that he was made man and hath tasted and suffered the bitter death for me and for all sinners.” Saint Erasmus was viciously tortured. He was at first scourged, had heated hooks jabbed into his intestines and stomach, and was finally thrown into a caldron filled with boiling oil. However, despite these horrific tortures, the Lord protected Saint Erasmus from death, and many were converted to the faith—including the jailor and his family.
”Erasmus, Follow me! Thou shalt convert a great many.”
“And when the hour was come that this holy bishop and martyr of God should depart out of this world, then was preferred a loud voice perfectly, coming from heaven saying: “Erasmus, my true servant, thou hast done me true service, wherefore come with me and go and enter into the bliss and joy of thy Lord, and I promise thee and all people that think upon thy great pain and call upon thy holy name, and thee sue and worship every Sunday, what that they ask of me in thy name for the weal of their souls, I shall grant it. Now come, my true and chosen friend, be glad and comforted with mine ascension. I will that thou arise with me and come sit upon the right hand of my Father.” Then was this holy man right glad and joyful, and he cast his eyes upward to heaven, with lifting up his hands, and there he saw, a clear shining crown come from heaven upon his blessed head. Then gave he loving and thanking to Almighty God with bowing his head and kneeling, and both his hands upward to heaven, and meekly said: “O Lord in thy hands yield my spirit, and this Sunday receive my soul into thy peace and rest.” And with saying these words he yielded up his ghost, which was seen with many men s eyes, shining clearer than the sun, and how that he was received of the holy angels, and was led through the height of heaven into the uppermost plan of heaven: there he standeth with God, with all the holy company, and is there a true helper to all them that call truly to Saint Erasmus for ghostly health, which joy and ghostly health let us pray that he for us all of our Lord God may obtain.”
Blaise, Catherine of Alexandria, George, Christopher, and others. Saint Erasmus, due to the manner in which he was tortured, is the patron saint of those with stomach or intestinal disorders.
A chronicler of Magellan's voyage to circle the globe, observed: "During those storms the holy body, that is, to say St. Elmo, appeared to us many times in light...on an exceedingly dark night on the maintop where he stayed for about two hours or more for our consolation." Darwin wrote that one night when the Beagle was anchored in the estuary of the Rio Plata: "Everything was in flames, the sky with lightning, the water with luminous particles, and even the very masts were pointed with a blue flame." The appearance of St. Elmo's Fire is regarded as a good omen for sailors, as it tends to occur near the end of severe thunderstorms or weather systems, the answer to sailors’ prayers for heavenly intervention. In these moments, the guiding hand of Saint Elmo is present.
HOLY Martyr Erasmus, who didst willingly and bravely bear the trials and sufferings of life, and by thy charity didst console many fellow sufferers; I implore thee to remember me in my needs and to intercede for me with God. Staunch confessor of the Faith, victorious vanquisher of all tortures, pray Jesus for me and ask Him to grant me the grace to live and die in the Faith through which thou didst obtain the crown of glory. Amen.
Year 2: Day 153 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Courageous lives of faith
Requested Intentions: Successful employment for couple (K); For employment for children (K); For health of friend, for successful relationships for children, for safe pregnancy for daughter (C); For the health of a mother (J); Virtue for daughter (V); Successful acceptance to college for nephew (M); For the health of a cousin (T); Freedom from legal difficulties for husband (S); Husband’s freedom from illness (L); Personal intentions (S); Successful passing of dental board examination (P); Blessings on a family (Z); Successful permanent employment (C); Healing of a son with autism (J); Son’s successful employment (L); For the intentions of family and relatives, for the Carthusian community (T); For personal intentions (A); Restoration of lost hearing (C); Resolution of relational and financial challenges (S); Comfort following loss of husband, security for family, assistance with housing (B); Healing and return of brother (O); Successful hermitage foundation (S); Support from family, permission to marry (H); Recovery of wife following surgery, freedom from depression (W); Protection and recovery of mentally ill daughter (J); Successful resolution to legal proceedings (N); Freedom from worry and successful employment (M); For successful sale of home and freedom from debt (J); Freedom from pain and illness (E).
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."