St Gerasimos the Jordanite (Commemorated on March 4)
St Gerasimos, the Hermit of the Jordan, was born in the region of Lycia in Asia Minor towards the end of the fourth century. Despite still being a child, he entered a monastery where he gave himself to prayer and fasting. It was from this monastery that he travelled to visit the Holy Land, where he came to make his home in the desert near the Dead Sea.
Due to his great virtue he started receiving disciples, and as their number grew he founded a monastery on the banks of the Jordan River. The monastic life was strict, with only bread and water eaten during the week. The monks aimed to destroy all earthly attachments, to deal with the passions, and to acquire virtues.
Once, St Gerasimos was walking by the Jordan when he saw a large lion howling with pain. It had a thorn in its foot which he pulled out. Full of gratitude, the lion – later named Jordan – followed St Gerasimos and lived like one of his disciples. It ate only bread and vegetables and was given a job, to lead a donkey to graze by the river.
One day, the donkey wandered away and Jordan returned to the monastery with his head bowed low. St Gerasimos logically assumed the lion ate the donkey, and the lion was given the donkey’s job of bringing water to the monastery. Jordan accepted this job without complaint. When Jordan saw the donkey in the hands of a camel-herder, who had stolen it, Jordan led the donkey and three camels back to the monastery and proved his innocence.
Five years later, in 475, St Gerasimos reposed in the Lord. When Jordan heard about this, he refused to eat and roared in his sadness. He was then taken to the grave of the Saint. After prostrating before the tomb, he roared mightily and died. St John Moschus, commenting on this, said that Jordan came to St Gerasimos to glorify the man who glorified God.
Source: Lychnos February – March 2021