St. Elmo, also known as St. Erasmus, is the patron of sailors and stomach ailments and against storms. He was the bishop of Formiae, Campagna, Italy, and suffered an excruciating martyrdom during Diocletian’s persecution of the Christians. He once fled to Mount Lebanon during the persecution and lived a life of solitude there for some time, and according to tradition was fed by a raven.
After the emperor discovered his whereabouts, he was tortured and thrown in prison. Legend claims that an angel released him and he departed for Illyricum, and eventually suffered a martyr’s death.
St. Elmo is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, a group of saints invoked with special confidence because they have proven themselves efficacious helpers in adversity and difficulties. St. Elmo is also invoked against stomach cramps and colic. This came about because he was tortured by having iron hooks stuck into his intestines by persecutors under Emperor Diocletian.
Legend records that when a blue light appears at mastheads before and after a storm, the seamen took it as a sign of St. Elmo’s protection. This was known as “St. Elmo’s fire”. The blue electrical discharges under certain atmospheric conditions have also been seen on the masts or riggings of ships.