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Gerasimos Of The Jordan
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Venerable Gerasimos lived during the reign of king Constantine Pogonatos in 670, as Sophronios of Jerusalem, who wrote his life, attests. He had fear of God since childhood and, after he became a monk, he went to the deepest parts of the desert of Thebais. He reached such a height of virtue and was graced with such intimacy with God, because he had preserved his image and likeness so pure, that he even had authority over wild beasts. A lion used to attend upon him and among other things this lion used to graze the donkey which fetched water to the saint. Once some merchants passed from that place. When they saw the donkey, they stole it. The lion was sleeping and did not feel a thing. So, in the evening he returned to the saint without having the donkey with him, as usual.

When the saint's servant saw the lion alone, he told the elder that the lion had eaten the donkey. So, the poor lion was condemned to carry the pitchers on his back and fetch water from the river instead of the donkey, for as long as the merchants kept it. However, the same merchants happened to pass from that place again and they had the donkey with them. As soon as the lion saw the donkey, he recognised it and rushed at the merchants with a loud roar. The people got scared and left. Together with the donkey the lion brought to St. Gerasimos' cell the camels which were tied on it. Knocking with his tail on the door of the saint's cell, he acted as if to show that he was offering them to the elder as game.

When the saint saw this thing, he smiled a bit and said to his disciple: "We wrongly accused the innocent lion that he had eaten the donkey. So, now we have to liberate him from his labour and allow him to go and graze at his usual place." Then the lion bowed his head, as if he had reason, and taking his leave from the saint he went to the wilderness. Once every week he used to come and bow before the saint. After the saint had died, the lion came, as his habit was, and asked to venerate him. However, when he did not find him, he seemed to be sad and angry. With many signs the saint's disciple helped him feel that the elder had died. The lion lamented the elder's death with a fine roar and seemed to be looking for the saint's grave. When the disciple led him to it, the lion fell on it and with a loud roar he breathed his last due to his extreme pain which he suffered from his love for the saint. This is how God glorifies those who glorify Him and makes wild beasts submit to those who keep His image and likeness pure.

Reading copyright Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, MA, used by permission. All rights reserved.

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