The best thing about a holiday in the sun (especially if it’s chuckin it down at home – soz) is coming back and telling everybody about it. So, you weren’t far from my thoughts all week as I was planning this posting. Honest. It was going to be about the mysterious way that moggies seem to be everywhere on the island but towards the end of my week, just as the tan was beginning to settle in (soz again), I stumbled across the story of St Gerasimus.
St Gerasimus is the patron Saint of the island of Kefalonia and is a much revered figure on the island but this is no 16th century saint locked away in a marble tomb. His remains are on display in the Gerasimus Monastery and form the centrepiece of one of the islands most important festivals.
So, this Gerasimus chap, was born into a rich, aristo family with all the trappings that came with that sort of birth, education, opportunity, privilege and what did he do? After the 15th century equivalent of the Grand Tour (that’s 12 years in Jerusalem) he banished himself to a cave on the island of Kefalonia (why do they do that?) for 5 years after which he established a small monastery on the island.
During his lifetime many healing miracles were attributed to him and on his death in 1579 he was buried on the island. His body was dug up two years later (you really have to ask why that was but there’s no answer to be found) and miraculously it showed no signs of decomposition. It is now displayed, in all its gory (oops I mean glory) in a glass case in the monastery on Kefalonia
St Gerasimus today is highly revered by locals and was reportedly seen up to 90 times in the aftermath of a terrible earthquake in the 1950s. Twice a year the locals they parade his remains through the local town and pass the glass case over the bodies of the sick in a hope that the Saint will heal again. The power of the story of St Gerasimus reached new levels in 2001 when it was featured in the blockbuster movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.
So without so much as a laying on of hands there’s psychic healing going on a plenty here but there’s some difference between St G and the psychics of old (and not so old). Charlatan performers and religious fakes can’t come anywhere close to the influence and support that a legend, even if it is shrouded in improvable mystery, provides to real people in their daily lives.
Whatever the truth about this fella, the power of his reputation is very strong and gives locals serious comfort at difficult times so perhaps we shouldn’t poo poo it too much, especially as i need to moisturise the old sun tan (soz yet again).