Patron of actors, comedians, clowns, dancers,
theatrical performers, musicians, attorneys, barristers, lawyers, printers, stenographers
Invoked against epilepsy
Feast Day: August 25
According to legend, Genesius (or Gelasinus or Gelasius) was the leader of a theatrical troupe in Rome around 300 AD. When he heard that Diocletian was coming to town, he decided to produce a play that would please the infamous Emperor ‑ a parody of the Christian faith that Diocletian so reviled.
Genesius had the lead role ‑ that of a Christian who at one point proclaims: “I wish to die for my beliefs so that God may receive me as one who seeks His salvation by turning from idolatry to superstition.”
The audience found the line hilarious.
The script then called for additional actors, dressed as clerics, to baptize him. However, upon receiving the anointing and hearing the words, Genesius diverted from the script. . . .
He turned to the audience and announced that after studying the tenets of the Christian faith in preparation for writing the play, he had received a revelation and was now a true believer. He then beseeched them to give it a try.
When Diocletian finally realized the soliloquy was not part of the farce, he became enraged. He ordered Genesius dragged off the stage, tortured, and then beheaded when he refused to denounce his new faith.
The courageous actor was buried on the Via Tiburtina and was soon venerated, with a church built in his honor. His relics are said to be in various chapels, including that of St. Lawrence. The story of St. Genesius has been dramatized throughout the centuries, most recently in a work by Weingartner in 1892.
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