Saint Onesimus, Bishop, Martyr

February 16

Today is the feast day of Saint Onesimus.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Onesimus [also know as Saint Onesimus of Byzantium and the Holy Apostle Onesimus (4)] was a slave of Philemon, a person of note of the city of Colossae in Phrygia who had been converted to the faith by St. Paul. Having robbed his master, and being obliged to fly, he met with St. Paul, then a prisoner for the faith at Rome, who converted and baptized him, and entrusted him with his canonical letter of recommendation to Philemon. By him, it seems, Onesimus was pardoned, set at liberty and sent back to his spiritual father, whom he afterwards faithfully served, for apparently St. Paul made him, with Tychicus, the bearer of his epistle to the Colossians, and afterwards, as St. Jerome and other fathers witness, a prescher of the gospel and a bishop.  (2)

Later, as Saint Jerome and other Fathers testify, he became an ardent preacher of the Gospel and a bishop. It is he who succeeded Saint Timothy as bishop of Ephesus. He was cruelly tortured in Rome, for eighteen days, by a governor of that city, infuriated by his preaching on the merit of celibacy. His legs and thighs were broken with bludgeons, and he was then stoned to death. His martyrdom occurred under Domitian in the year 95. (1)

Image: Painting depicting death of Onesimus, from the Menologion of Basil II (c. 1000 AD) (6)

Research by REGINA Staff


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