Thursday, November 29, 2012

Comm. of St. Saturninus

Begin today the Novena to the Immaculate Conception.

Saturninus was born in the third century to Roman nobility. A missionary to Gaul, the Pyrenees, and the Iberian peninsula, he worked with Saint Papoul and converted many, including the farmer now known as Saint Honestus who joined him as a missionary. He was imprisoned in Carcassone by the prefect Rufinus, Saturninus and his group were freed by an angel. Saturninus then became the first bishop of Toulouse in modern France), where he teamed with Saint Martial to perform miraculous healings. He also converted and baptized Saint Firminus of Amiens.

When Saturninus began his work in Toulouse, the local pagan priests stopped receiving oracular messages from their gods. One day in 257, when the priests were hopelessly frustrated, they seized him and on his unshakeable refusal to sacrifice to the images they condemned him to be tied by the feet to a bull which dragged him about the town until the rope broke (his pupil Saint Fermin suffered the same martyrdom at Pamplona). Two Christian women gathered up his remains and buried them in a ditch; a church called the Taur (bull) was built where the bull stopped.

Saturnin’s successors at Toulouse, Hilary and Exuperius (Exupère), gave him a more honorable burial, once Christian rites were no longer illicit, by erecting a simple wooden oratory over the “Roman crypt” (as modern guides describe it) where he had been interred. The noteworthy 14th century Gothic church that eventually replaced earlier buildings is Notre-Dame du Taur (“Our Lady of the Bull”).


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