Monday, October 9, 2006
St. Denis

Optional Memorial (1969 Calendar): October 9
Commemoration (1962 Calendar): October 9
Commemoration (1954 Calendar): October 9

Today the Church remembers St. Denis, bishop and martyr and companions, martyrs. St. Denis was born in Italy. And, in 250 he was sent to France with six other missionary bishops by Pope St. Fabian. St. Denis became the first bishop of Paris. Because of his success, he angered the pagans and was imprisoned by the Roman governor. He was beheaded on the highest hill in France (the Montmartre) in 258 with the priest Rusticus and the deacon Eleutherius at Catulliacum, now Saint-Denis.

One of the many legends about his torture and death was that his body carried his severed head some distance from his execution site. During that walk, he continued to preach! This was a miracle of God. St. Denis is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, who were invoked especially in the Middle Ages against the Black Plague. Saint Genevieve built a basilica over his grave, which is the burial site of French Kings. His feast was added to the Roman Calendar in 1568 by Pope Saint Pius V, though it had been celebrated since 800 AD.

Patron: against frenzy; against strife; headaches; against diabolical possession; France; Paris, France.

Symbols: beheaded bishop carrying his head — sometimes a vine growing over his neck; mitered head in his hand or on book; white chasuble; tree or stake; sword; Our Lord with chalice and host.


O God, You sent Rusticus and Eleutherius to join blessed Denis in preaching Your glorious name to the pagans, and on this day You so strengthened this martyr bishop in virtue that he was able to endure martyrdom courageously. May we follow the example of Your saints for love of You and spurn the pleasures of the world, without fearing to face any of its trials. Through our Lord . . .

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