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St. Onesimus

Saint Onesimus

Bishop & Martyr

Onesimus, whose name means “useful” in Greek, was a native of Phrygia and a slave to Philemon of Colossae, a wealthy Christian convert and future martyr. Onesimus robbed his master and fled from Colossae to Rome, but in that great city Providence ensured that Onesimus met St. Paul, who quickly converted and baptized the runaway slave. In his Epistle to St. Philemon, Paul mentions that he is sending Onesimus back to his master, for as a Christian Onesimus was now bound to return Philemon’s stolen property. Though St. Paul did not explicitly recommend that Philemon legally free Onesimus, Philemon must have done so, for tradition relates that Onesimus eventually became a bishop. The traditional Roman Martyrology agrees with the Greeks that Onesimus succeeded St. Timothy as Bishop of Ephesus, and is thus the same Bishop Onesimus commended by St. Ignatius in his letter to the Ephesians. According to this tradition, Onesimus was taken captive to Rome, and there stoned and possibly beheaded, in the late first or early second century. The Greeks commemorate St. Onesimus on February 15th.

 

Traditional Roman Martyrology for February 16th

THE birthday of blessed Onesimus, concerning whom the apostle St. Paul wrote to Philemon. He made him bishop of Ephesus after St. Timothy, and committed to him the office of preaching. Being led a prisoner to Rome, and stoned to death for the faith of Christ, he was buried in that city; but his body was afterwards carried to the place where he had been bishop.

At Cumae, in Campania, the Translation of St. Juliana, virgin and martyr. Under the emperor Maximian, she was first severely scourged by her own father, Africanus, then made to suffer many torments by the prefect, Evilasius, whom she had refused to marry. Later being thrown into prison, she encountered the evil spirit in a visible manner. Finally, as a fiery furnace and a caldron of boiling oil could do her no injury, she terminated her martyrdom by decapitation.

In Egypt, St. Julian, martyr, with five thousand other Christians.

At Caesarea, in Palestine, the holy martyrs Elias, Jeremias, Isaias, Samuel, and Daniel, Egyptians, who of their own accord served the confessors of Christ condemned to labor in the mines of Cilicia, but were arrested on their return, and after being cruelly tortured by the governor Firmilian, under the emperor Galerius Maximian, were put to the sword.

After them, St. Porphyry, servant of the martyr Pamphilus, and St. Seleucus, a Cappadocian, who had been victorious in several combats, being again exposed to torments, won the crown of martyrdom, the one by fire, the other by the sword.

At Arezzo, in Tuscany, blessed Gregory X, a native of Piacenza, who was elected Sovereign Pontiff while he was archdeacon of Liege. He held the second Council of Lyons, received the Greeks into the unity of the Church, appeased discords among Christians, made generous efforts for the recovery of the Holy Land, and governed the Church in the most holy manner.

At Brescia, St. Faustinus, bishop and confessor.

℣. And elsewhere many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.

℟. Thanks be to God.

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