Short Lives of the Saints – Saint Onesimus, Bishop and Martyr

illustration of Saint Onesimus returning to Philemon, the letter from Saint Paul the Apostle in his hand; taken from 'Pictorial Lives of the Saints', 1892, artist unknownEntry

The slave of Philemon of Colossus (who was a convert of Saint Paul the Apostle), Onesimus, robbed his master, ran away from him, and made his way to Saint Paul at Rome. The great apostle converted and baptized the bondman, and then sent him back to Philemon, charging the latter to receive Onesimus as a brother, and to give to him his freedom. The letter containing these instructions to Philemon is one of the most touching and beautiful of the epistles of Saint Paul. Once at liberty, Onesimus devoted himself to Saint Paul, who sent him, in company with Saint Tychicus, to bear an epistle to the Colossians. He was afterwards made bishop of Ephesus. In the persecution of Domitian Saint Onesimus was sent in chains to Rome, and there was stoned to death in the year 95.

Oh, let us seize on what is stable
And not on what is shifting! All
Rushes down Life’s vast waterfall
On to that sea interminable
Which has no shore. Earth’s pleasures pall,
But heaven is safe and sacred too.
    – from the Spanish of Francisco de Velasco

Favorite Practice – To use every lawful means to rescue souls from the slavery of sin.

MLA Citation

  • Eleanor Cecilia Donnelly. “Saint Onesimus, Bishop and Martyr”. Short Lives of the Saints, 1910. CatholicSaints.Info. 2 April 2021. Web. 21 April 2021. <>