Saint Genesius of Rome
AKA: Saint Genesius of Arles
Died: c 286 - 303 A.D.
Venerated: Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Feast Day: August 25
Saint Genesius died somewhere between 286 A.D. and 303 A.D. The exact date is not known, neither is the date of when Saint Genesius was born. Saint Genesius was an actor in Rome, having performed for Emperor Diocletian. One of the plays that he would perform was a play about a catechumen that was to be baptized, satirizing the Christian sacrament. However, in a weird string of events during the play, Saint Genesius was converted to Christianity during a performance.
It was during the performance that Saint Genesius proclaimed that he saw angels around him and had asked these angels to baptize him during the performance. This outraged the emperor who had him tortured to force Saint Genesius to renounce the Christian faith and return to idolizing the pagan gods. Saint Genesius was faithful which ultimately resulted in him being beheaded. However, the above description of how he converted is thought to only be a legend.
The legend of Saint Genesius of Rome first dramatized during the 15th century, then later on in the works of Oratorio Plus Atella of Lowe, and then most recently again by Weingartner. Again, the thought is that this is a legend, and that Saint Genesius' existence is even questioned, but was venerated in Rome during the 4th century when a church was built in his honor and repaired by Pope Gregory III in 741. He is also thought to be the counterpart of Saint Gelusius of Hierapolis who died in 297 A.D.
Saint Genesius was buried in Rome within the cemetery of Saint Hippolytus, which is on the Via Tiburtina. The relics of Saint Genesius are thought to be scattered in a few different places - San Giovanni della Pigna, the Chaplet of Saint Lawrence, and Santa Susanna di Termini. There are several different stories that surround Saint Genesius. There is one source that claims he was a legal clerk that left his position in search of baptism. Another claim is that he was a cult following out of Aries that eventually spread to Rome where a church was built. The last story is that Saint Genesius was a comedian and was converted during a performance and refused to renounce his Christian conversion at the request of the emperor and was subsequently beheaded. The latter was a story that began no later than the 6th century.
Regardless of how Saint Genesius of Rome converted to Christianity, he died a martyr and became known as a patron of saints to actors; comedians; converts; dancers; musicians; printers; lawyers; epileptics; thieves; torture victims; and attorneys.
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