A Garner of Saints – Saint Denis

detail of a stained glass window of Saint Denis of Paris; date and artist unknown; cemetery chaple of the Croix-Bouessée, Piré-sur-Seiche, Ille-et-Villaine, France; photographed on 13 December 2013 by François GOGLINS; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

(Latin: Dionysius; Italian: Dionisio or Dionigi) The legends confound all the Denis of Christendom, notably with Dionisius the Areopagite, who is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. After his conversion he became bishop of Athens, and converted that town. On hearing that Peter and Paul were imprisoned at Rome, he went to visit them. After their martyrdom Clement sent him to preach in France with two companions named Rusticus and Eleutherius. Arrived in Paris he converted many and founded numerous churches. The people, stirred up by the priests, came to assassinate him, but upon seeing him they threw themselves at his feet or took to flight. At this time the Emperor Domitian ordained that all Christians should be made to sacrifice or sufler death by torture. The proconsul Fescenninus, sent from Rome to Paris, found Denis preaching to the people, and at once caused him to be seized, loaded with chains, and brought before him, together with his companions. Then came a noble lady who said that her husband had been deceived by these enchanters, and when the husband arrived and declared himself a Christian, he was immediately put to death. The saints were scourged by twelve soldiers and sent to prison loaded with chains. The following day Denis was stretched naked on a gridiron over a fire, but while there he preached to the bystanders. He was next exposed to wild beasts which had been kept fasting, but he subdued them by the sign of the cross. They threw him into a furnace, but he felt no harm; they put him on a cross and tortured him; and finally, as all was of no avail, they sent him back to prison with his companions. There he celebrated the communion, and Christ appeared to him and gave him the bread, saying, “Receive my body, a great reward awaits thee.” The three companions were next subjected to fresh tortures, and after refusing to sacrifice to a statue of Mercury were all beheaded. But the body of Saint Denis immediately arose, took its head in its arms, and led by an angel and surrounded by a celestial light, it bore it for a distance of two miles from the Montmartre (Mons Illartirum) to the spot where it now rests. Angels made such lovely music the while, that many believed. Dagobert, king of the Franks, conceived a lively devotion for Saint Denis from his very childhood, and whenever he had reason to fear the anger of his father he took refuge in the church of the holy martyr. After his death a holy man had a vision in which he saw Dagobert summoned before the tribunal of God. A large number of saints accused him of having despoiled their churches. The demons were about to drag him down to hell, when Saint Denis arrived, and by his intercession rescued the king’s soul. Some legends relate that Saint Denis was assisted in this by Saint Maurice and Saint Martin. Saint Denis is the patron saint of France. 9th October.


  • Carries his head, a somewhat common attribute shared by a large number of other saints, of whom, however, Denis is the most important.

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Saint Denis”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 17 April 2017. Web. 20 June 2021. <>