This Saint, who was from Lycia in Asia Minor, lived there for many years as a hermit, and then went to Palestine. There he built the great Lavra by the Jordan River, where a lion served him with great obedience and devotion. One day the lion came looking for Gerasimus that he might feed him, but his disciples took the lion to the place where they had buried the Saint shortly before. The lion fell at the Saint’s grave and, after roaring with grief, died at that very place. Saint Gerasimus reposed in 475.
This remarkable and renowned saint first learned about the ascetic life while he was in the Egyptian Thebaid. He then went to the Jordan and founded a community in which there were seventy monks. This community still exists today. He instituted a special rule for his monastery. According to this rule the monks spent five days a week in their cells weaving baskets and rush mats.
They were never allowed to light a fire in their cells. Five days a week they ate only a little dry bread and a few dates. The monks were required to keep their cells open so that, when they went out, anyone could enter and remove whatever he needed from their cells. On Saturdays and Sundays they gathered in the monastery church. They had a common meal with a few vegetables and a little wine to the glory of God. Each monk would then bring in and place before the feet of the abbot that which he had made during the past five days. Each monk had only one robe. St. Gerasimus was an example to all.
During Great Lent he did not eat anything except what he received in Holy Communion. On one occasion, he saw a lion roaring from pain because of a thorn in his paw. Gerasimus drew near to the lion, crossed himself and removed the thorn from the animal’s paw. The lion became so tame that he returned with Gerasimus to the monastery and remained there until the elder’s death. When Gerasimus reposed, the lion succumbed to sorrow for him and died.
Gerasimus attended the Fourth Ecumenical Council [Chalcedon, 451 A.D.] during the reign of Marcian and Pulcheria. Although at the beginning Gerasimus leaned toward the Monophysite heresy of Eutyches and Dioscorus (St. Euthymius dissuaded him from this heresy), he was a great defender and champion of Orthodoxy at the Council. Of all the disciples of Gerasimus, the most famous was St. Cyriacus the Recluse. St. Gerasimus died in the year 475 A.D., and passed on to the eternal joy of his Lord.
Apolytikion of Gerasimus of the Jordan
Thou didst prove to be a citizen of the desert, an angel in the flesh, and a wonderworker, O Gerasimus, our God-bearing Father. By fasting, vigil, and prayer thou didst obtain heavenly gifts, and thou healest the sick and the souls of them that have recourse to thee with faith. Glory to Him that hath given thee strength. Glory to Him that hath crowned thee. Glory to Him that worketh healings for all through thee.
Kontakion of Gerasimus of the Jordan
As a star resplendent with the light of virtues, thou didst make the wilderness of Jordan radiantly shine with beams of sacred celestial light, O righteous Father, God-bearing Gerasimus.