On October 20 we celebrate St. Gerasimos of Kefalonia, the patron saint of our metropolitan. St. Gerasimos is a wonder-working saint whose relics have remained incorrupt for nearly 500 years after his falling asleep! His relics are on the island of Kefalonia, on the western shore of Greece, where he founded a women’s monastery.
St. Paisios of Mount Athos said that God has given the Orthodox the incorrupt relics of three saints to these islands – St. Spyridon on Corfu, St. Dionysios on Zakynthos, and St. Gerasimos on Kefalonia – as a dam to protect the Orthodox from conversion to Roman Catholicism (since these islands lay between Greece and Italy).
St. Gerasimos was a great ascetic who lived on Mt. Athos, in the Holy Land, and in various places in Greece, before settling on Kefalonia. His most characteristic saying, which is inscribed on many of his icons, was: “Children, live in peace and do not be arrogant.”
Each year the people of Omala Valley on the island of Kefalonia have a processions with St. Gerasimos’ relics on his feast days (August 16 & October 20).
People lay on the ground so that his relics can be carried over them. (God has given St. Gerasimos great grace to conquer demonic possession.) Below is an article from a priest on Kefalonia, writing about the joyous annual processions.
It is true that our villages owe a great deal to the presence of Saint Gerasimos and his convent in Omala Valley. … The saint is seen as the sun by the hymnographer as he comes out of his Church and lightens the mountain-enclosed area of the valley: “As the sun you emerge from your church Gerasimos, and with heaven’s angels you ascend the heights.” (Hymn for St. Gerasimos)
According to tradition, many times it was attempted to remove [St. Gerasimos’ relics] from here, without success. A little further down on the road to Troianata, the location is called “podoria” and it is the place from where he could be moved no further. He would become heavy. He feels content here because it is the place he chose among so many others he visited.
He thus reigns over Omala and several times during the year he promenades like a rarely-seen nobleman for his subjects to admire and rejoice. And they come in thousands. Among the procession, he in the middle, raised high, humble, untouched by time, in his clerical robes which like his body did not perish in the grave. … His procession to the plane tree is a blessing, the exodus of a king to his kingdom. …
Ah, this procession! The church bells are ringing in joy, music is playing, soldiers are marching with arms. Who knows what the Omala Ascetic is thinking? Can he see it all, can he hear it all? These poor folks are trying to exalt him. Officials in presence, the bands, the chanters with their melodies, the clergy and the metropolitans with their gold-weaved robes. Speeches, thank yous, praises, meals. Accept all this, Holy Ascetic. This is what the people are able and know to offer. If need be, don’t pay attention. If it’s not to your liking, look elsewhere: look at the valleys, the trees, the mountains.
“The valleys and mountains shine in Your presence; the trees bow their branches to venerate You. Listen to the birds: through the leaves of the trees the birds sing angels’ hymns – sing for you Gerasimos of Virtue.” (Hymn to St. Gerasimos)
Written by Father Ioannis Mesoloras. From Full of Grace and Truth Blog.