Gelasius, the actor, Baalbaki, the saint and martyr

He was born in a village called Mariamni near Damascus. He practiced comedy and was a prominent member of an acting troupe that worked in the city of Baalbek during the time of great persecution that struck the Roman Empire in the late third century AD. It happened once that the troupe was mockingly imitating the ritual of holy baptism among Christians.

That day, Gelasius was asked to play the role of the enlightened one, so his companions threw him into a barrel of lukewarm water, while the spectators became loud, laughing and mocking the movement of lowering into the water. But something unexpected happened. God’s grace penetrated Gelasius against his will, and he rose from the water, converted, as if he were a new person. As soon as they dressed him in a white dress, he declared out loud: I am a Christian! When I was in the water, I saw a glory whose brilliance filled me with fear. And here I am, as a Christian, now ready to die.

At first glance, the viewers thought that what Gelasius said was part of the text of the play, but the scene quickly imposed itself, and the audience was struck with questions, astonishment, and silence. As soon as they returned to themselves, the voices of boos began to rise from here and there until they included all the pagans, so they rushed towards Gelasius, dragged him outside the theater, and stoned him. Christians came and took his body and returned it to his homeland, where they built a church over his shrine.

The church celebrates him on February 27.

Troparia in the fourth tune and in the eighth tune
Your martyr, O Lord, through his effort, obtained from you the indestructible crown, O our God, because he attained your strength and destroyed the usurpers, and crushed the power of the demons who had no power. Through his pleas, O Christ God, save our souls.

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