Saint Erasmus zealously served the Lord from his youth. In his mature years he was consecrated as Bishop of Formium, Italy. During the persecution against Christians under the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian Hercules (284-305), Saint Erasmus left his diocese and went to Mount Libanus, where he hid for seven years. Once, however, an angel appeared to him and said, “Erasmus! No one vanquishes enemies if he is asleep. Go to your own city, and you shall vanquish your enemies.” Heeding the voice of the angel, Saint Erasmus left his seclusion.
The first ones who asked him about his faith were soldiers who met him along the way. Saint Erasmus confessed himself a Christian. They brought him to trial at Antioch before the emperor Diocletian. The saint fearlessly confessed his faith in Christ and denounced the emperor for his impiety.
Saint Erasmus was subjected to fearsome tortures, but remained unbending. After the tortures the saint was bound in iron chains and thrown into prison, where an angel appeared in miraculous form, saying, “Follow after me, I will lead you to Italy. There you shall bring many people to salvation.” Saint Erasmus preached boldly to the people about Christ and raised up the son of an illustrious citizen of Lycia.
After this miracle at Lycia 10,000 men were baptized. The emperor of the Western half of the Roman Empire, Maximian Hercules, gave orders to seize the saint and bring him to trial. Saint Erasmus also confessed his faith before this emperor. They beat him and threatened him with crucifixion if he did not renounce Christ. They forced him to go to a temple of the idol, but along the saint’s route all the idols fell and were destroyed, and from the temple there came fire which fell upon many of the pagans.
After being set free, Saint Erasmus baptized many pagans, and later went to the city of Sirmium, where he was seized and subjected to torture. They seated him in a red-hot oven, but he remained alive and unharmed. This miracle amazed so many people that the emperor, fearing civil unrest, retired into his own chambers. The angel freed Saint Erasmus from his fetters and took him to the city of Formium, i.e. to his own diocese, where the saint baptized many more people. The saint died there in 303. Christians buried the relics of the holy confessor with honor.