Denis (a westernization of the the Greek Dionysius), was one
of seven bishops sent to Gaul by the Bishop of Rome during
the reign of the Emperor Deccius. Their mission was to
extend the spread of the Gospel in that mostly-pagan land.
of the bishops were sent to major settlements, St Denis was
assigned to the small, remote pagan town of Lutetia — which
later grew to become the city of Paris. He and his
companions settled outside the town in a house given to him
by a convert, where the few Christians could meet in secret.
through the holy bishop's grace-filled preaching and his
many miracles, Christianity grew rapidly.
fierce persecution of Christians swept through Gaul, and
many of the faithful were abused, tortured or put to death.
Saint Denis, fearless of danger and heedless of his own old
age, travelled among the Christians, visiting the prisoners
and exhorting all to remain firm in their confession of
himself was arrested along with several companions, and was
tortured without pity. When was publicly hung on a cross, he
preached to the onlookers of the mystery of Christ's
to prison, he celebrated the holy Eucharist for the last
time, enveloped in a heavenly light. He and a host of other
Martyrs were then beheaded on a hill, now called Montmartre
in their memory.
There is a
tradition that at his beheading he rose up, took his own
head in his hands, and walked for several miles to a place
that later became the Basilica of St Denis in the town named
French Revolution, the Kings and Queens of France were
buried in this church.