Wednesday 16 December 2009

Bhakta Prahlada and Saint Erasmus of Formiae

My cousin who is working as a Pilot sent a mail to our family group explaining about St. Elmo’s fire. St. Elmo’s fire is a weather phenomenon that often appears on the masts of ships and the wings of airplanes. That was informative and we got to know about it.

I got curious on the name “St. Elmo” and did a quick googling and got to know that St. Elmo was named after Saint Erasmus of Formiae and he is venerated as the patron saint of sailors.

After digging more about this saint, I got this interesting tale about the saint. The summary of this tale is somewhat similar to our “Bhakta Prahlada” story. Read on…

According to his legend, when the persecutions of the Emperor Diocletian began, "Erasmus was called before a judge, beaten around the head, spat upon and 'besprinkled [...] with foulness.' He was then beaten with leaden mauls until his veins broke and burst. Erasmus suffered all of these punishments with tremendous willingness. Erasmus was then thrown into a pit of snakes and worms, and boiling oil and sulfur were poured on him but 'he lay therein as he had lain in cold water, thanking and loving God.' Then thunder and lightning came and electrocuted everyone around save Erasmus. Thus the saint was protected from the lightning. Diocletian had him thrown in another pit, but an angel came and slew all the vipers and worms."

Then came the Western Roman Emperor Maximian who, according to Voragine, was "much worse than was Diocletian." Erasmus would not cease preaching the Gospel, even though he was "put into a pan seething with rosin, pitch, brimstone lead, and oil, [which were] pour[ed] ... into his mouth, [from] ... which he never shrinked." A searing hot cloak and metal coat were both tried on him, to no effect, and an angel eventually carried him away to safety."
"And when this holy man came before the false gods" - to which he was to be forced to sacrifice, they "fell down and broke all in pieces, and consumed into ashes or dust." That made the emperor so angry he had Erasmus enclosed in a barrel full of protruding spikes, and the barrel was rolled down a hill. But an angel healed him. Further tortures ensued:
His teeth were ... plucked out of his head with iron pincers. And after that they bound him to a pillar and carded his skin with iron cards, and then they roasted him upon a gridiron...and did smite sharp nails of iron in his fingers, and after, they put out his eyes of his head with their fingers, and after that they laid this holy bishop upon the ground naked and stretched him with strong withes bound to horses about his blessed neck, arms, and legs, so that all his veins and sinews that he had in his body burst."
The version of the "Golden Legend" did not relate how Erasmus fled to Mount Lebanon and survived on what ravens brought him to eat, an interesting pre-Christian mytheme. When he was recaptured, he was brought before the emperor and beaten and whipped, then coated with pitch and set alight (as Christians had been in Nero's games), and still he survived. Thrown into prison with the intention of letting him die of starvation, St Erasmus managed to escape.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Just an update!

It's been a bit long time since I peeked into my blog. I was very busy at work and didn't get time to blog! However, I continued my micro-blogging via twitter!

I've a couple of things to blog such as my memorable bike ride to Mysore during Dasara festival, my first ever visit to cricket stadium for an international match, and an interesting story on Saint Erasmus of Formiae and how it is similar to our "Bhakta Prahlada" story.

I hope to spend some time to blog. So, keep watching! Till then, have a good day!