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The Holy Apostle Onesimus (15 February)

Onesimus was one of the Seventy [Lesser Apostles]. He was a slave of Philemon but transgressed against his master and fled to Rome. There he heard the Gospel from the Apostle Paul and was baptized. Since the Apostle Paul had earlier converted Philemon to the true Faith, he reconciled the two of them–Philemon and Onesimus, master and slave–writing a special epistle to Philemon.

It is one of the most touching compositions in Holy Scripture. I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds… For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever. Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me (Philemon 1:10,15,16). Indeed, moved by this letter, Philemon received Onesimus as a brother, freeing him from slavery.

Later Onesimus was consecrated a bishop by the apostles themselves, and he accepted the episcopal throne at Ephesus at the death of the Apostle Timothy. This is evident from the Epistle of Ignatius the God-bearer. At the time of Trajan’s persecution, Onesimus, already an old man, was arrested and brought to Rome. In Rome Onesimus gave an account of himself before the judge Tertulus, and he was imprisoned and finally beheaded. A wealthy woman removed his body, placed it in a silver coffin and buried it honorably, in the year 109 A.D

This Apostle, who was from Colossae, was a bond-servant of that Philemon to whom the Apostle Paul addressed his epistle. Onesimus escaped from Philemon and fled to Rome, where he became a disciple of Saint Paul. Saint Paul brought him to the Faith of Christ, and then sent him back to his master, who in turn gave him his freedom and sent him back to Rome again, where he ministered to Saint Paul. Later, he was seized because he was a Christian and was sent to Puteoli, where he was beaten to death with clubs. Saint Onesimus is also commemorated on November 22 with the holy Apostles Philemon, Apphia, and Archippus.

Apolytikion of Onesimus of the 70

Third Tone

O Holy Apostle Onesimus, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.

Kontakion of Onesimus of the 70

Fourth Tone

Thou didst shine upon the world as a bright sunbeam, shining with the rays of Paul, the sun of most resplendent light, who hath enlightened the world entire. Thus, we all honour thee, blessed Onesimus.