St. Gerasimus of Jordan River icon

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Orthodox icon of Saint Gerasimus of the Jordan River.

Commemorated March 4.

Saint Gerasimus who was a native of Lycia (Asia Minor). St Gerasimus established a strict monastic Rule. He spent five days of the week in solitude, occupying himself with handicrafts and prayer. On these days the wilderness dwellers did not eat cooked food, nor did they kindle a fire, but ate only dry bread, roots and water. On Saturday and Sunday all gathered at the monastery for Divine Liturgy and to partake of the Holy Mysteries of Christ.

In the afternoon, taking a supply of bread, tubers, water and an armload of date-palm branches for weaving baskets, the desert-dwellers returned to their own cells. Each had only old clothes and a mat, upon which he slept. When they left their cells, the door was never locked, so that anyone could enter and rest, or take whatever he needed. During Great Lent he ate nothing until the very day of the All-Radiant Resurrection of Christ, when he received the Holy Mysteries.u00a0 The monks of his monastery were fond of recalling how a lion came to greatly love the saint and served him obediently and with great humility. One day, as St. Gerasimos was walking through the Jordan desert, he met a lion.

The lion stretched out his paw and St. Gerasimos saw that it was infected and very swollen. The lion gazed pleadingly and meekly at the elder who sat down immediately to inspect the paw. He discovered that a thorn had lodged in the lion's paw and this was the cause of his suffering. The saint carefully removed the thorn, cleansed the wound of all the pus and then wrapped it with a cloth. From then on the lion faithfully followed the saint like a disciple. St. Gerasimus fell asleep in the Lord in the year 475 and was buried by his sorrowing brethren there in his monastery.

The lion was not there at the time and when it returned he was ookng for the saint. One of the monks tried to explain but could not communicat to the lion. Finally he went to the grave and fell down weeping. The lion now realized what had happened. He gave one last mighty roar, struck his head on the ground and died on the elder's grave. The lion's love and devotion for St. Gerasimos is an example of the love and obedience the animals had for Adam before his fall into sin and his expulsion from Paradise. This is why in icons of Saint Gerasimus you will normally see a lion shown at his feet.

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