St Gerasimos the New Ascetic of Cephalonia was born in the village of Trikkala in the Peloponessos. As a young adult, he became a monk on the island of Zakynthos. On the Holy Mountain he became a schemamonk and studied with the ascetics of Mt Athos. Receiving a blessing from the Elders, the monk went to Jerusalem to worship at the Life-bearing Tomb of the Saviour. After visiting many holy places in Jerusalem, Mount Sinai, Antioch, Damascus, Alexandria and Egypt, he returned to Jerusalem where he became a lamp-lighter at the Sepulchre of the Lord. The monk was ordained a Deacon and then a Priest by the Patriarch Germanos (1534-1579 AD) of Jerusalem.
St Gerasimos maintained the discipline of an ascetic. For solitude, he withdrew to the Jordan, where he spent forty days without respite. Having received the Patriarch’s blessing for a life of silence, St Gerasimus withdrew to Zakynthos in solitude, eating only vegetation. After five years he was inspired to go the island of Cephalonia, where he lived in a cave. He restored a church at Omala, and he founded a women’s monastery where he lived in constant toil and vigil for thirty years. He prayed on bent knees stretched out on the ground. For his exalted life, he was granted the miraculous gift of being able to heal the sick and cast out unclean spirits.
At 71 years of age, St Gerasimos knew that he would soon die. He gave his blessing to the nuns and peacefully fell asleep in the Lord on August 15, 1579 AD. Two years later, his grave was opened and his holy relics were found fragrant and incorrupt with a healing power.
Dismissal Hymn (First Tone)
O believers, let us praise the protector of Orthodoxy, the God-bearing miracle-worker lately appearing to us, the incarnate angel, divine Gerasimos. For he has rightly received from God the ever-flowing grace of performing healing. He strengthens those with diseases and he heals those with demons. Therefore he pours out healings to those who honour him.
Kontakion (Third Tone)
Now Cephalonia, with sacred songs of thanksgiving, calls upon the multitudes of all the Orthodox Christians to extol the boast and glory of Orthodoxy, the divine and great Gerasimos, who is truly her deliverer and champion, who doth preserve her from all the harm of her foes.