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On this day: St. Genesius

 |  NCR Today

On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Genesius.

"Genesius was a comic actor during the reign of Diocletian, the emperor who was intent upon eliminating the Christians from the empire once and for all. When Genesius's theatrical troupe was commanded to perform before Diocletian, they decided to prepare a play that would be topical: they wrote a new farce that mocked the Christian sacrament of baptism.

"Genesius was cast as the convert to be baptized. But at the climactic moment, as the water was poured over his head and the actor playing the priest spoke the words of the baptismal rite, something remarkable happened. Divine grace flowed over Genesius just as if his baptism had been authentic. He scrapped the sacrilegious lines he was supposed to recite, and instead looked Diocletian in the eye and ad-libbed a speech denouncing the emperor for his cruelty to the Christians. . . . The emperor stopped the performance, ordered Genesius arrested, and condemned him to be tortured to death.

"Genesius was probably hauled off to prison and tortured there. But given the Romans' tolerance of gruesome spectacles onstage, it's possible that he met his death in front of an appreciative if sadistic audience, either in an arena or one of Rome's theaters."

--Saints Behaving Badly: The Cutthroats, Crooks, Trollops, Con Men, and Devil Worshippers Who Became Saints, by Thomas J. Craughwell, Doubleday Religion, 2006, pages 37-38.

Click here for images. Some of the medals show St. Genesius with comedy and tragedy masks and with the baptismal font that was a prop at his last performance.

Click here to see a stained glass window of St. Genesius in St. Mary of the Angels Anglican Church in Hollywood. Scroll down just past half way. He's wearing buskins.

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August 15-28, 2014

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