|Saint Genesius of Rome was named the patron saint of actors and those working in the theatre because he was eventually martyred when professing his conversion to Christianity while performing on stage in front of Diocletian.
Christianity and Saint Genesius
According to Acts, a document written in the seventh century describing the martyrdom of Saint Genesius, he was both an actor and a playwright. Saint Genesius was a pagan and wrote a play ridiculing Christianity. Saint Genesius thought Diocletian would enjoy the play because he hated all Christians.
In order to write his play, Saint Genesius had to learn about Christian rituals. He went to the Christian community and pretended to want to convert. The Christians taught Saint Genesius about Jesus and baptism. Much of his play was based upon the sacrament of Baptism. After he wrote the play, he left Christianity behind.
Saint Genesius Performs for Diocletian
Saint Genesius performed his satire about Christian baptism with the Emperor Diocletian in the audience. Saint Genesius was suddenly struck with the realization of Christian truth and immediately began to profess his belief in Jesus Christ. Genesius looked at Diocletian, asking him to become a Christian.
“I came here today to please an earthly Emperor but what I have done is to please a heavenly King. I came here to give you laughter, but what I have done is to give joy to God and his angels. From this moment on, believe me, I will never mock these great mysteries again. I now know that the Lord Jesus Christ is the true God, the Light, the Truth and the Mercy of all who have received his gift of baptism. O great Emperor, believe in these mysteries! I will teach you, and you will know the Lord Jesus Christ is the true God.”
Saint Genesius Martyr
Emperor Diocletian stopped the play and Saint Genesius was arrested. He refused to deny his faith and was tortured with iron rods, stretched on the rack, burned, and sliced with hooks. Saint Genesius remained steadfast in his newly found faith and was beheaded.