09 October – Saint of the day

Saint of the day

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 10-09

 St. Denis and Companions

 (d. 258?)

 This martyr and patron of France is traditionally held to have been the first bishop of Paris. His popularity is due to a series of legends, especially those connecting him with the great abbey church of St. Denis in Paris. He was for a time confused with the writer now called Pseudo-Dionysius.

The best hypothesis contends that Denis was sent to Gaul from Rome in the third century and beheaded in the persecution under Valerius in 258.

According to one of the legends, after he was martyred on Montmartre (literally, “mountain of martyrs”) in Paris, he carried his head to a village northeast of the city. St. Genevieve built a basilica over his tomb at the beginning of the sixth century.

 

Comment:

Again we have the case of a saint about whom almost nothing is known, yet one whose cult has been a vigorous part of the Church’s history for centuries. We can only conclude that the deep impression the saint made on the people of his day must have resulted from a life of unusual holiness. In all such cases, there are two fundamental facts: A great man gave his life for Christ, and the Church has never forgotten him—a human symbol of God’s eternal mindfulness.

Quote:

“Martyrdom is part of the Church’s nature since it manifests Christian death in its pure form, as the death of unrestrained faith, which is otherwise hidden in the ambivalence of all human events. Through martyrdom the Church’s holiness, instead of remaining purely subjective, achieves by God’s grace the visible expression it needs. As early as the second century one who accepted death for the sake of Christian faith or Christian morals was looked on and revered as a ‘martus’ (witness). The term is scriptural in that Jesus Christ is the ‘faithful witness’ absolutely (Revelations 1:5; 3:14)” (Karl Rahner, Theological Dictionary)

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