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Saturnin

Saturnin

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Saint Saturnin of Toulouse , with a feast day
Calendar of saints
The calendar of saints is a traditional Christian method of organizing a liturgical year by associating each day with one or more saints and referring to the feast day of said saint...

 entered for November 29, was one of the "Apostles to the Gauls
Gauls
The Gauls were a Celtic people living in Gaul, the region roughly corresponding to what is now France, Belgium, Switzerland and Northern Italy, from the Iron Age through the Roman period. They mostly spoke the Continental Celtic language called Gaulish....

"
sent out (probably under the direction of Pope Fabian
Pope Fabian
Pope Fabian was Pope from January 10, 236 to January 20, 250, succeeding Pope Anterus.Eusebius of Caesarea relates how the Christians, having assembled in Rome to elect a new bishop, saw a dove alight upon the head of Fabian, a layman and stranger to the city, who was thus marked out for this...

, 236 - 250) during the consulate of Decius
Decius
Trajan Decius , was Roman Emperor from 249 to 251. In the last year of his reign, he co-ruled with his son Herennius Etruscus until they were both killed in the Battle of Abrittus.-Early life and rise to power:...

 and Gratus (250-251) to Christianize Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 after the persecutions under Emperor Decius had all but dissolved the small Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 communities. St Fabian sent out seven bishops from Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 to Gaul to preach the Gospel: Saint Gatien
Gatianus of Tours
Gatianus was the founding bishop of the see of Tours.-Life:According to Christian historians, during the consulship of the Emperor Decius and Vettus Gratus , Pope Fabian sent out seven bishops from Rome to Gaul to preach the Gospel: Gatianus to Tours, Trophimus to Arles, Paul to Narbonne,...

 to Tours
Tours
Tours is a city in central France, the capital of the Indre-et-Loire department.It is located on the lower reaches of the river Loire, between Orléans and the Atlantic coast. Touraine, the region around Tours, is known for its wines, the alleged perfection of its local spoken French, and for the...

, Saint Trophimus
Trophimus of Arles
According to Catholic lore, Saint Trophimus of Arles was the first bishop of Arles, in today's southern France.It was an early tradition of the Church that under the co-Emperors Decius and Herennius Etruscus , Pope Fabian sent out seven bishops from Rome to Gaul, to preach the Gospel: Gatien to...

 to Arles
Arles
Arles is a city and commune in the south of France, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence....

, Saint Paul
Paul of Narbonne
Saint Paul of Narbonne was one of the "apostles to the Gauls" sent out during the consulate of Decius and Gratus to Christianize Gaul after the persecutions under Emperor Decius had all but dissolved the small Christian communities...

 to Narbonne
Narbonne
Narbonne is a commune in southern France in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. It lies from Paris in the Aude department, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Once a prosperous port, it is now located about from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Saint Saturnin to Toulouse
Toulouse
Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

, Saint Denis
Denis
Saint Denis is a Christian martyr and saint. In the third century, he was Bishop of Paris. He was martyred in connection with the Decian persecution of Christians, shortly after A.D. 250...

 to Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, Austromoine
Austromoine
Stremonius or Saint Austremonius or Saint Stramonius or Austromoine, the "apostle of Auvergne," was the first bishop of Clermont.-Legend:...

 to Clermont
Clermont-Ferrand
Clermont-Ferrand is a city and commune of France, in the Auvergne region, with a population of 140,700 . Its metropolitan area had 409,558 inhabitants at the 1999 census. It is the prefecture of the Puy-de-Dôme department...

, and Saint Martial
Saint Martial
Saint Martial was the first bishop of Limoges in today's France, according to a lost vita of Saturnin, first bishop of Toulouse, which Gregory of Tours quotes in his History of the Franks.-Life:...

 to Limoges.

Background


St Saturnin is styled the first Bishop of Tolosa (Toulouse
Toulouse
Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

). The lost Acts of Saturninus were employed as historical sources by the chronicler Gregory of Tours
Gregory of Tours
Saint Gregory of Tours was a Gallo-Roman historian and Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of Gaul. He was born Georgius Florentius, later adding the name Gregorius in honour of his maternal great-grandfather...

. The martyrology gave a genealogy for Saturnin: the son of Aegeus, King of Achaea, by his wife Cassandra, who, herself, was the daughter of Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

, King of the Ninevites. The Acts placed Saturninus in the 1st century, made him one of the 72 disciples of Christ, placed him at the Last Supper
Last Supper
The Last Supper is the final meal that, according to Christian belief, Jesus shared with his Twelve Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "communion" or "the Lord's Supper".The First Epistle to the Corinthians is...

. Legends associated with Saturninus state that after Saint Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

 consecrated him a bishop, “he was given for his companion Papulus
Papulus
Saint Papulus was, according to Christian tradition, a priest who worked with Saturninus of Toulouse to evangelize southern Gaul. Papulus is considered an evangelist of the Lauragais....

, later to become Saint Papulus the Martyr.” Legend states that besides Papulus, Saturninus also had Saint Honestus
Saint Honestus
Saint Honestus was, according to Christian tradition, a disciple of Saturninus of Toulouse and a native of Nîmes. Saturninus and Honestus evangelized in Spain, and Honestus was martyred at Pampeluna during the persecutions of Aurelian...

 as a disciple.

The detail from the Acts that is selected for remembering today describes his martyrdom: to reach the Christian church Saturninus had to pass before the capitol (still the Capitole de Toulouse
Capitole de Toulouse
The Capitole de Toulouse is the heart of the municipal administration of the French city of Toulouse.The Capitouls of the Toulouse embarked on the construction of the original building in 1190, to provide a seat for the government of a province growing in wealth and influence...

), where there was an altar, and according to the Acts, the pagan priests ascribed the silence of their oracles to the frequent presence of Saturninus. One day 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. (Tellingly, the identical fate was ascribed to his pupil Saint Fermin
Saint Fermin
Saint Fermin of Amiens is one of many locally venerated Catholic saints. Fermin is the co-patron of Navarra, where his feast, the 'San Fermín' in the capital Pamplona, is forever associated with the Encierro or 'Running of the Bulls' made famous by Ernest Hemingway...

 whose site of martyrdom is at Pamplona
Pamplona
Pamplona is the historial capital city of Navarre, in Spain, and of the former kingdom of Navarre.The city is famous worldwide for the San Fermín festival, from July 6 to 14, in which the running of the bulls is one of the main attractions...

.)

The bull, it is said, finished at the place since named Matabiau (that is, matar ("the killing") and biau or bœuf ("bull"). An inversion of this martyrdom, the tauroctony, the "killing of the bull," is precisely the central rite of Mithraism
Mithraism
The Mithraic Mysteries were a mystery religion practised in the Roman Empire from about the 1st to 4th centuries AD. The name of the Persian god Mithra, adapted into Greek as Mithras, was linked to a new and distinctive imagery...

, the most important icon in the mithraeum
Mithraeum
A Mithraeum is a place of worship for the followers of the mystery religion of Mithraism.The Mithraeum was either an adapted natural cave or cavern or an artificial building imitating a cavern. Mithraea were dark and windowless, even if they were not actually in a subterranean space or in a natural...

, a depiction of Mithras in the act of killing a bull. The tauroctony was either painted or depicted in a sculptural relief, sometimes on the altar. Two Christian women (puellae remembered as "les Puelles") piously gathered up the remains and buried them in a "deep ditch", that they might not be profaned by the pagans. It is not beyond possibility, in this part of Gaul, where even today the greatest bell among many in Toulouse is honored with the name "Le Grand Taur," that the deep ditch was in fact a mithraeum
Mithraeum
A Mithraeum is a place of worship for the followers of the mystery religion of Mithraism.The Mithraeum was either an adapted natural cave or cavern or an artificial building imitating a cavern. Mithraea were dark and windowless, even if they were not actually in a subterranean space or in a natural...

.

The site, said to be "where the bull stopped" is on the rue du Taur ("Street of the Bull"). The street with the Mithraic
Mithraism
The Mithraic Mysteries were a mystery religion practised in the Roman Empire from about the 1st to 4th centuries AD. The name of the Persian god Mithra, adapted into Greek as Mithras, was linked to a new and distinctive imagery...

 name is one of the original Roman cross streets running straight from the Capitole now to the Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 basilica
Basilica
The Latin word basilica , was originally used to describe a Roman public building, usually located in the forum of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes...

 honoring St. Saturnin ("St Sernin").

'Notre-Dame du Taur"


Saturnin's successors at Toulouse, Hilary (bishop 358 - 360) and Exuperius
Exuperius
Saint Exuperius was Bishop of Toulouse at the beginning of the 5th century.His place and date of birth are unknown. Upon succeeding Saint Sylvius as bishop of Toulouse, he completed the Basilica of St. Sernin, begun by his predecessor...

 (Exupère) (400-?), gave him 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").

At the end of the century, the press of pilgrims to the cramped site encouraged bishop Silvius (360 - 400) to build a larger church, finished by his successor Exuperius (Exupère) (400 - ?) in 402. The body of the saint was translated to the new church, which now forms the crypt of the present Romanesque Basilica, one of the buildings that defines the Romanesque style in southern France. The Basilica is not the cathedral, which is dedicated to Saint Stephen
Saint Stephen
Saint Stephen The Protomartyr , the protomartyr of Christianity, is venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Churches....

. The reburial place was at the crossing, before the altar, where the saint's relics remained until 1284.

At the same time the Bishop took the official Acts of Saturnin, the Passio antiqua, and rewrote them as a panegyric that took the place of the originals embellishing them with colorful details, and with pious legends linking Saturnin to the founding of the churches of Eauze
Eauze
Éauze is a commune in the Gers department in southwestern France.-History:Éauze takes its names from the Gaulish Aquitani tribe of the Elusates....

, Auch
Auch
Auch is a commune in southwestern France. Located in the region of Midi-Pyrénées, it is the capital of the Gers department. Auch is the historical capital of Gascony.-The Ausci:...

, Pamplona, and Amiens. Even so, they are among the oldest documents of the Gallican Church.

Places named after him

  • numerous places in France named Saint-Saturnin
    Saint-Saturnin
    Saint-Saturnin is the name or part of the name of several communes in France:* Saint-Saturnin, Cantal, in the Cantal département* Saint-Saturnin, Charente, in the Charente département...

  • numerous places in France named Saint-Sernin
    Saint-Sernin
    Saint-Sernin may refer to the following places in France:* Basilique St-Sernin, Toulouse, the basilica of Toulouse, France* Saint-Sernin, Ardèche, a commune in the department of Ardèche* Saint-Sernin, Aude, a commune in the department of Aude...

  • Burgo de San Cernín, Navarre, Spain. It was the Languedocian borough of Pamplona.
  • In Catalonia, Spain.
    • Sant Sadurní d'Anoia
      Sant Sadurní d'Anoia
      Sant Sadurní d'Anoia is a municipality in the comarca of the Alt Penedès in Spain, and the centre of production of a sparkling wine known as cava. It is situated in the north-east of the Penedès Depression at the confluence of the Avernó river and the Anoia river...

    • Sant Sadurní d'Osormort
      Sant Sadurní d'Osormort
      Sant Sadurní d'Osormort is a municipality in the comarca of Osona inCatalonia.-References:* Panareda Clopés, Josep Maria; Rios Calvet, Jaume; Rabella Vives, Josep Maria . Guia de Catalunya, Barcelona:Caixa de Catalunya. ISBN 84-87135-01-3 . ISBN 84-87135-02-1 ....

    • Sant Sadurní de l'Heura
  • In Asturias, Spain.
    • San Saturnino

External links