Saint Gerasimos was according to tradition born in Trikala of Korinthia in 1506. His father’s Name was Dimitrios and his mother was called Kali. His father’s origins were of the Byzantine aristocracy, the Notarades family. Saint Gerasimoses orthodox name was George. Saint Gerasimos was raised and educated as every upper-class boy of that time. When he was twenty he decided to go to Zante that was an important centre of culture of the era while despite the Venetian occupation there was a renascence atmosphere contrary to the condition prevailing in the rest of the country conquered by the Turks.
THE ASSUMPTION OF SAINT GERASIMOS
His deep belief of the orthodox faith made him leave Zante to the most important religious and spiritual centres of those times.
Constantinople and the Ecumenical Patriarchate was his first destination where he took the Patriarch’s blessings and then moved to the mount of Athos, where he became a monk. There is not much that we know about which was the monastery he chose. However many historians assume that it was the monastery of Iviri and that he became a hermit in the cell of Saint Vassilios in the area of Kapsala. Saint Gerasimos according to the biographers stayed in Mount Athos for a while and left it when he decided to travel across the Holy Lands. He must have arrived there by 1538. Apart from the Holy Grave he also visited Syria, Damascus, Sina, Antiohia, Alexandria and the Thivais desert.
The Patriarch in Jerusalem appreciated Gerasimos and his personality and kept him by his side to take over as a verger in the Holy Grave. In Jerusalem Saint Gerasimos was ordained deacon and senior by the Patriarch of Jerusalem Germanos by the name Gerasimos in honour of Saint Gerasimos the Jordanian. In 1548 Saint Gerasimos left Jerusalem to travel to Crete where he stayed for two years. By then he returned to Zante after a pilgrimage of 20 years that brought him closer to God.
In Zante Saint Gerasimos became a hermit in a cave in Saint Nikolas that the locals still call it the «cave of Saint Gerasimos». There are mentions that he was also a curate in the church of Saint Lazarus. At that same time, Saint Dionyssios was also born and some tradition wants him baptized by Saint Gerasimos. The certain thing is that Saint Dionissios was deeply affected by the personality of Saint Gerasimos who was already well known in the island. The period of the Venetian occupation was difficult in all aspects especially in that of religion as the Catholic Church was making attempts to convert the local population. Saint Gerasimos decided to go to Kefalonia. He became a hermit once more to a cave near Argostoli . He stayed in that cave for 5 years and 11 months and then decided to settle in the area of Omali at the foot of Mount Ainos where he founded a monastery. Crowds of people were streaming to the monastery to listen to his teachings. There used to be a chapel in the area of Omali devoted to the Assumption of the Virgin which was granted together with the surrounding fields to Saint Gerasimos by the priest of the area Georgios Valsamos in 1561. The Saint founded a monastery there named «New Jerusalem» with the permission and blessings of the bishop of the island Pahomios Makris. Since then his fame spread all over the Christian world. After his application, the patriarchate set the monastery under its Holy Protection. Saint Gerasimos died on the 15th of August same day with that of the assumption of his beloved Virgin Mary. In the last moments of his life on earth, by his side were according to tradition Father Ioannikios, Father Germanos and the Abbess Laurentia. The priests dressed the Saint in the vestments that he has even today and after a devoting night they buried the body of Saint Gerasimos by the southern wall of the temple. The first removal of relics of Saint Gerasimos took place 2 years and 2 months after his death on the 20th of October 1581. The Venetians, annoyed by the imperishability of the body ordered the body to be buried again until completion of three years. The second removal of relics took place six months after with the same results.
For this reason the name-day celebration of the Saint that was enacted, was that of the 20th of October and the 16th of August instead of 15th of August so as the day of the Assumption of the Virgin not to be shadowed. The nomination of the saintliness of Gerasimos was made oficial in 1622. Saint Gerasimos was named «New Ascetic» so as to be distinguished from Saint Gerasimos the Jordanian.
SAINT GERASIMOS HIS LIFE