Wednesday, 2 June 2021

man in motion

Venerated on this day on the occasion of martyrdom (†303) after a series of horrendous torture sessions for keeping the faith and recruiting many converts, Erasmus of Formia—also known as Saint Elmo, is presented as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers (previously), whom are to be called upon for intercession and deliverance. Going underground during the persecutions of both Diocletian and Western successor Maximian Hercules, an angel persuaded to return his diocese in Campania. En route, Erasmus was captured by soldiers, and professing his Christianity was imprisoned in Illyricum but the angel helped him escape and establish a church there near modern day Zadar. Having attracted the ire of local magistrates due to the success of his congregation, Erasmus was made to bow before the pagan gods, whose statues crumbled by dint of his faith, which prompted his captors in response to stick him in a barrel with a spiked interior and roll him down a hill. The angel healed him as with his subsequent ordeal of being painted in pitch and set alight and another jail-break. Erasmus finally succumbed, recaptured with his belly slit open and his intestines wound around a winch, a windlass that’s now part of his iconography, the crane for loading and unloading cargo signifying his affiliation with mariners as well as patronage for stomach ailments and cramps. A further connection with sailors was the saint’s steadfast homily aboard a ship despite the plasma phenomena of ball lighting or Saint Elmo’s Fire haloing the mast as precursor to a thunder strike, afterwards taken as an omen of protection though it didn’t always pan out that this aural warning was a good sign.