Saint Denis and Companions, Martyrs
Image: Martyrdom of St Denis
Today is the optional memorial of Saint Denis (bishop) and companions, martyrs. He is the patron against frenzy, strife, headaches, and diabolical possession. He is also the first patron of Paris, France.
Saint Denis was born in Italy. In 250 he was sent to France with two other missionaries by Pope Fabian. Denis became the first bishop of Paris. Tradition tells us that when Denis and his companions arrived in France, they preached to the Druids. Their zeal for the gospel brought many souls to the Lord, but angered the Druid priests. At their instigation, the Roman Governor arrested the missionaries. After a long imprisonment, Denis and two of his clergy were executed by beheading, on the highest hill in Paris, which was known to have been a druidic holy place. The three martyrs gave their lives for the Faith on this hill, which was then called Montmartre, “the mount of the martyrs.”
After his head was cut off, it is said 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.
The symbols of Saint Denis 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.