Submitted by Yuri Klitsenko, Russia
Another saint of the 5th century was St Gerasimus, who lived in a monastery in Jordanian desert. Once the saint prayed in the desert. Suddenly he heard a terrible roar and saw a lion. The lion went to St. Gerasimus limping and stretched his ill suppurating pad to him. The saint saw that a big prickle was stuck into the pad. The lion looked on the elder with his eyes suffering from affliction.
- Do you feel pain, my friend? – The elder asked. – Be patient, now I shall help you.
He took a splinter out of the pad, cleared the wound and tied up a piece of tissue. Tenderly stroking the beast on a shaggy mane, the elder let him go. But the lion wouldn’t leave. Since then he started going with the saint everywhere as a pupil with a teacher, and completely obeyed him.
In the monastery where St. Gerasimus lived, water was brought from river Jordan with a donkey. The elder charged the lion to protect the donkey when the latter grazed on the bank of the river. The lion performed this duty of obedience diligently. But once he fell asleep in the shade of a palm tree. And at this time a caravan of camels was passing by. The host of the caravan saw that nobody guarded the donkey, and, having thought, that the donkey had lost his way, withdrew him.
When the lion came back in the monastery without the donkey, St. Gerasimus asked him:
- Have you eaten the donkey? If so, you’ll have to perform his duties!
Lion lowered his head ashamed.
Since then the lion began to perform diligently a new duty of obedience - to bring water to the monastery.
After a while the same caravan came back. From a high bank the lion saw the donkey and rushed to him joyfully. The merchant, being frightened of the lion, escaped and left the caravan. And the lion took a bridle with his lips – as he used to do before - and brought the donkey into the monastery.
The lion brought the donkey to the elder. Gerasimus stroke the lion and told him smiling:
- I shouldn’t have scolded you. You are a fair beast, and I’ll call you Jordan.
Since then lion Jordan lived in the monastery for a long time. When St. Gerasimus grew absolutely old and demised, the lion began to miss him and even stopped eating. Then he lay on the elder’s tomb and began to roar in such a manner that the air trembled and finally he died, too.
Since then St. Gerasimus of the Jordan is frequently depicted on icons with a lion.
Yuri Klitsenko is a Russian living in Moscow. He works for the Russian Orthodox Church.