Saint Erasmus of Formiae (died about 303), also known as Saint Elmo, is the patron saint
of sailors. St. Elmo's Fire is named after him. Erasmus or Elmo is also one of the Fourteen
Holy Helpers, shadowy figures of Christian mythology who were venerated especially in
Central Europe as intercessors.
The Acts of Saint Elmo were partly compiled from legends that confuse him with a Syrian
bishop Erasmus of Antioch. Jacobus de Voragine in the Golden Legend credited him as a
bishop at Formia over all the Italian Campania, as a hermit on Mount Lebanon, and a
martyr in the persecutions under Eastern Roman Emperor Diocletian.
According to his legend, when the persecutions of Diocletian began, Erasmus was called
before a judge, beaten around the head, spat upon and "besprinkled [...] with foulness".
He was then beaten with leaden mauls until his veins broke and burst. Erasmus suffered
all of these punishments with tremendous willingness. Erasmus was then thrown into a pit
of snakes and worms, and boiling oil and sulfur were poured on him but "he lay therein as
he had lain in cold water, thanking and loving God". Then thunder and lightning came and
elotrocuted everyone around save Erasmus. Thus the saint was protected from the
lightning. Diocletian had him thrown in another pit, but an angel came and slew all the
vipers and worms.
Then, came the Western Roman Emperor Maximian, who according to Voragine, "[...] was
much worse than was Diocletian". Erasmus would not cease preaching the Gospel, even
though he was "put into a pan seething with rosin, pitch, brimstone lead, and oil, [which
were] pour[ed] [...] into his mouth, [from] [...] which he never shrinked". A searing hot cloak
and metal coat were both tried on him, to no effect, and an angel eventually carried him
away to safety. "And when this holy man came before the false gods" to which he was to
be forced to sacrifice, they "fell down and brake all in pieces, and consumed into ashes or
dust". That made the emperor so angry he had Erasmus enclosed in a barrel full of
protruding spikes, and the barrel was rolled down a hill. But an angel healed him. Further
"[H]is teeth [were] [...] plucked out of his head with iron pincers. And after that they bound
him to a pillar and carded his skin with iron cards, and then they roasted him upon a
gridiron...and did smite sharp nails of iron in his fingers, and after, they put out his eyes of
his head with their fingers, and after that they laid this holy bishop upon the ground naked
and stretched him with strong withes bound to horses about his blessed neck, arms, and
legs, so that all his veins and sinews that he had in his body burst."
The version of the Golden Legend did not relate how Erasmus fled to Mount Lebanon and
survived on what ravens brought him to eat, an interesting pre-Christian mytheme. When
he was recaptured, he was brought before the emperor and beaten and whipped, then
coated with pitch and set alight (as Christians had been in Nero's games), and still he
survived. Thrown into prison with the intention of letting him die of starvation, Erasmus
managed to escape.
He was recaptured and tortured some more in the Roman province of Illyricum, after
boldly preaching and converting numerous pagans to Christianity. Finally, according to
the legend, his stomach was slit open and his intestines wound around a windlass. This
late legend may have developed from interpreting an icon that showed him with a
windlass, signifying his patronage of sailors.
Erasmus may have become the patron of sailors because he is said to have continued
preaching even after a thunderbolt struck the ground beside him. This prompted sailors,
who were in danger from sudden storms and lightning to claim his prayers. The electrical
discharges at the mastheads of ships were read as a sign of his protection and came to
be called "Saint Elmo's Fire."
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|SHIP SINKINGS AROUND MARINDUQUE
WORST TYPHOONS OF THE PHILIPPINES
(Spanish Period / 1617-1876)
The Philippine Storm Logbook, 1617 to 1876 - in capsule, reads:
OCTOBER 10-15, 1617 - Six large ships were reduced to floundering hulks by a mighty idal-wave-generating sea
churner off Marinduque.
Although a number of shipwrecks have been reported since the early 1960's, the first systematic marine
archeological project was only successfully completed in 1980. This was done off the island of Marinduque towards
Gaspar islet. Here the practically intact cargo of a trading ship was found at a depth of about 40 meters. Through an
unknown calamity the ship sunk with a cargo of porcelain dishes with blue under the glaze, saucers, bowls jarlets,
powder boxes, spice containers, stoneware jars and jarlets; and some one-color wares. There were also iron skillets,
earthenware stoves, ballast stones and some wooden objects. There was one copper ring with a red coral setting.
The assemblage could be dated through the ceramics as between A.D. 1500 and 1600, and was probably coming
from the Chinese port of Swatow to trade in central Philippines when it sunk before it could unload its cargo.
Unfortunately, no trace of the ship itself was found.
U. S. Customs Steamer Lost in a Typhoon in the Philippines.
Manila, July 17,—A severe typhoon swept over the southern islands June 14 and 15. The United States customs
steamer Shearwater was lost off the Island of Marinduque. Nineteen of her crew, including three Americans were
Manitoba Morning Free Press July 18, 1902
15 May, 1943
USS Gar (Lt.Cdr. P.D. Quirk) torpedoes and sinks the Japanese transport ships Meikai Maru (3197 BRT) and Indus
Maru (4361 BRT) between Dumali Point, Mindoro and Marinduque Island, Philippines in position 13.07N, 121.49E.
2 Jul, 1943
USS Trout (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Clark) torpedoes and sinks the Japanese transport ship Isuzu Maru (2866 BRT) off the
north coast of Marinduque Island, Philippines in position 13.36N, 121.49E.
Crew Rescued as Ship Sinks
MANILA, July 5 (IP)—Four officers and twenty-nine crew members rowed to shore in lifeboats last night after the 463-
ton inter-island freighter Nuria of Manila sank in Tablas strait, four miles off Buena Vista, Marinduque island. The
Nuria, loaded with lumber and charcoal, filled with water and sank when the propeller shaft broke off
Reno Evening Gazette July 05, 1939
186 Persons Rescued From Grounded Ship
MANILA, June 25 —UP— The master of an American freighter told Saturday night how his crew used small boats to
remove 186 panicky persons mostly women and children from a grounded vessel.
Capt. James Brummelen of the Steel Admiral said everyone was removed from the Philippine coastal vessel
Neptuno In the three-hour dawn rescue Friday. There were 111 women and 75 children aboard.
It was "simple luck" that led to the rescue in the Sibuyan Sea south of here Brummelen said afterwards he brought
all survivors to Manila aboard his 8,000-ton freighter Friday night. The first clue he had that a ship was in distress
was blinking lights in the distance.
The 680-ton Neptuno, a hole torn in it’s bottom, was perched atop a reef just off Marinduque Island. His crew
removed the passengers and crew In small boats on a basis of "women and children first” he said. “Visiblity was
very poor and the sea current in the area was rather unusually tricky” the captain added.
Surviviors told how they had been pitched from their bunks when the Neptuno ran aground. The purser said,
“before I knew it there was a terrific thud and a grating sound followed by a listing of the vessel”.
A member of the Philippine board of inquiry said a cause of the grounding may have been overloading. The
Neptuno was only authorized to carry 73 passengers he said.
Galveston Daily News June 26, 1955
The Philippines Constabulary said four persons drowned and three were reported missing from a boat that capsized
off Boac, Marinduque, 100 miles southeast of Manila. The boat carried 102 passengers, the constabulary said.
Lima News November 29 1974
400 lost as tanker rams ship
MANILA,'Philippines (DPI) – An oil tanker rammed a crowded inter-island passenger ship in the Tablas Strait in the
central Philippines. The Coast Guard reported 400 people aboard were missing. The Coast Guard said more than
500 passengers and crew members were rescued by passing ships in the area, about 120 miles south of Manila.
The government-owned Philippines News Agency said there were 10 people known dead in the collision, but the
government radio listed the death toll at seven.
The tanker, the government-owned Tacloban City, reportedly was empty and was said to have left the scene of the
collision without rendering assistance to those in the water. The passenger ship, the M.V. Don Juan, sank near
The coast guard in Manila said ships plying the area picked up some 506 survivors and took in 10 confirmed
fatalities to Batangas City, 50 miles south of Manila. The Coast Guard said there were several more seriously
injured survivors, but their number was not immediately known.
The 1,349-ton Don Juan left Manila's South Harbor Tuesday afternoon for the central Philippine city of Bacolod with
about 890 passengers including a complement of 19 officers and 69 crewmen. Lloyd's Register of Shipping lists the
Don Juan as licensed for only 736 passengers.
The coast guard said it had sent underwater rescue teams to scour the waters off Maestre de Campo for more
survivors. A Philippine air force plane also was on standby at the Gasan airport in Marinduque Island near Mindoro
to ferry injured passengers.
The Negros Navigation Company, which owns the Don Juan, said a distress signal from the ship was intercepted by
its station in Bacolod late Tuesday. The Don Juan radioman said, "We're sinking, we're, sinking! Abandon ship!
Abandon ship! Abandon ship!" Then the radio went dead.
Chicago Daily Herald April 23, 1980
Ferry, Tanker Collide; Hundreds Feared Dead
MANILA, Philippines (AP) -
Shipping sources said 1,490 people were listed as missing and feared drowned after the collision of a passenger
ship and an oil tanker Sunday night. Both vessels sank. -The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also
said at least 26 people were rescued. The collision between the 2,215-ton MV Dona Paz and the Philippine oil
tanker MT Victor occurred about 10 p.m. Sunday, said Eusebio Go, general manager of the Sulpicio Lines. The
accident happened off Marinduque island some 100 miles south of Manila, he said.
Bong Meneses of the Philippine Rescue Coordinating Center said both vessels sank. Most of the survivors were
plucked from the flaming waters by a passing merchant vessel, he said. Go said he is uncertain how many people
were aboard the passenger liner but that it could carry 1,424 passengers and an undetermined number of crew
members. The MV Dona Paz had been expected to arrive in Manila at 4 a.m. today.
Lt. Jose Cabildo of the Philippine coast guard said the Victor was bound for Masbate island with 8,300 barrels of oil.
Samuel Carillo, one of the survivors, told The Associated Press he was walking to the ship's canteen after a chat
with the captain when he felt "a jerk and an explosion " flames all over, and I jumped," he said. Another survivor —
42-year-old Paquito Osabel — said he was on his way to Manila with his sister and three nieces to spend Christmas
with his family. He said the vessel was so crowded that up to four people were sharing individual cots and hundreds
of others were sitting on the floor of the three-deck ship. Osabel said he was chatting with his relatives, all of whom
are missing, when he heard an explosion. "I went to a window to see what happened, and I saw the sea in flames,"
Post Standard December 21, 1987
Saint Erasmus (Saint Elmo) Patron Saint of Sailors
November 25, 1944
Planes from the U.S. Aircraft carrier Intrepid
(CV-11) sink fast transports T.6 and T.10,
and damage fast transport T.9 and
escort destroyer Take.
For more info and pictures click here
Fear 28 drowned in Capsized Boat
Manila, UPI Reports reaching here have said that 28 persons were believed to have been drowned when their
motorboat capsized off Marinduque Province, southwest of here, last week.
The Manila Rescue Coordination Center said bodies of two passengers of the 20 foot motorboat "Eden" were found
and there was little hope for others. Eleven of the 28 were children.
The victims were traveling from Marinduque Island to Mindoro Island to visit relatives during the Easter holidays.
Pacific Stars And Stripes April 8 1961
(Propane Maru No. 2-79) 546/66 MIPG Carrier owned by Galleon Navigation Co. S.A. Philippine Islands, went
aground near Marinduque island during Typhoon Skip 6/11/88 and after being abandoned by her crew
the following day sank in deepwater.
Other Incidents of the Storm.
December 10 1916
Among the many incidents of the great storm was the wrecking of the steamer Lanao off the southwest coast of
Marinduque with the loss of one life and one engineer seriously injured. The vessel belonged to Messrs. Findlay,
Richardson and Company and was engaged in the lumber trade, plying between Manila and the Company's mills at
Kolambugan, Mindanao. The vessel was carrying two passengers at the time, one of whom, curious to say, was Mr.
William Scott, the manager of the company. It seems to be little short of a miracle that the officers, crew and
passengers, with the exception of one Filipino sailor, should have been saved, as it meant the survivors leaping in
the darkness from the bow of the doomed vessel to a huge rock near the mainland while the ship was being buffeted
by the waves as the tempest raged in all its fury.
North China Herald January 8 1916
MANILA.—By telegram from Hong Kong, Aug. 8,
The Maria Ysasi barque, from Australia for this port, has been totally lost on Marinduque ; crew saved.
August 21 1876 London and China Telegraph
1590 Between March and June
The San Felipe sailed from Acapulco, Mexico to Manila, but was shipwrecked off the coast of Marinduque during
typhoon.. The Ship's crew survived the wreckage with the cargo and silver where were valued at 500,000 pesos.
Her cargo partly recovered. She grounded on a reef near the shore.
Could this be the mystery treasure near the Gasan shore? Check out the story here
The barge was dispatched during fine weather on the 12th of July in tow of the S.S. Antonio Macleod for Cebu,
but a sudden and extremely severe typhoon was encountered enroute and the barge broke adrift north of the
island of Tablas on the morning of the 14th and stranded on the beach of Marinduque Island, Gasan on the
The barge was considerably damaged, but was floated and towed to Banalacan Bay for safe anchorage.
However, here it filled through some open seams and sank. A contract has been awarded for floating and
repairing the barge, and it is expected to have it ready for dispatching to Cebu at an early date.
Report of the Chief Quarantine Officer for July 1902
The typhon which hit the provinces of the South, near Manila, in the middle of November, 1844, should be classified
as destructive. From the reports of the Provincial Governor to the Governor-General of the Philipinne Islands, the
following details are gathered: Some interisland ships were lost in the sea of Marinduque: the church of Gasan was
blown down and several houses of Mogpog were ruined; more than 500 work animals perished in the floods of Boac;
In Batangas, the winds destroyed 765 houses.