Friday, October 09, 2015

St. Denis and Companions, martyrs

Last Communion and Martyrdom of Saint Denis, by Henri Bellechose, 1416, which shows the martyrdom of both Denis and his companions

Today is the optional memorial of St. Denis (bishop) and companions, martyrs. He is the patron against frenzy, strife, headaches, and diabolical possession. He is also the patron of Paris, France.

St. Denis was born in Italy. In 250 he was sent to France with six other missionary bishops by Pope Fabian. Denis became the first bishop of Paris. He was beheaded 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. St. Denis is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers who were invoked particularly in the Middle Ages against the Black Plague.

His symbols include: a 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, who sent Saint Denis and his companions
to preach your glory to the nations
and strengthened them for their mission
with the virtue of constancy in suffering,
grant, we pray, that we may imitate them
in disdaining prosperity in this world
and in being undaunted by any trial.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

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