The Catholic Defender: The St. Saturninus Story, Glory of the French People
The French people have been a very blessed Nation when it comes to having blessings from Heaven. In the nearly four years of Marian Apparitions and Eucharistic Miracles we have covered, there have been many examples where the Lord and His Mother appeared miraculously in France.
These many miracles have had a profound impact on many people throughout the whole world. Jesus told His Apostles, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth." Acts 1:8
Many of these witnesses will be martyrs which the Greek translation actually proclaims. The blood or the Martyrs will be shed for their love of the Lord, but also for the Church.
French historian Fr. Tillemont (1637-1698) recognized the importance of the shedding of blood for their faith writing of St. Saturninus, “One of the most illustrious Martyrs France has given to the Church.”
St. Saturninus was the first Bishop of Toulouse about the year 250 A.D. This was at the time when Roman Emperor Decius was in power who lead one of the most extreme anti-Catholic persecutions upon the Church.
Coming from Rome where Pope Fabian called for St. Saturninus to preach the faith to the people of Gaul, where St. Trophimus, the first Bishop of Arles had moderate success reaching people for Christ and His holy Catholic Church.
St. Saturninus preaching was so successful that many of the Pagan priests were alarmed and began to look for ways to arrest him. The Lord worked many miracles through St. Saturninus resulting in many conversions.
Traveling throughout the area, St. Saturninus was passing through the Capital where large segments of Pagans continued to hold temple worship. Visiting a small group of Christians, Pagan priests had St. Saturninus captured because he refused to sacrifice to idols.
Those speaking against St. Saturninus were literally struck dumb and mute by the presence of this great Saint. This literally shut up the oracles that were inspired by demonic manifestations in their chief temple. This would happen every time St. Saturninus would happen to walk by.
The Pagan priests marked where St. Saturninus would travel and had him taken into their temple where he refused to worship or give sacrifice to their idols. St. Saturninus said to the Pagans, "I adore one only God, and to him I am ready to offer a sacrifice of praise. Your gods are devils, and are more delighted with the sacrifice of your souls than with those of your bullocks. How can I fear them who, as you acknowledge, tremble before a Christian?"
Like Jesus before him, St. Saturninus suffered greatly among the Pagans who attacked the Man of God with a variety of indignities.
Ultimately, they tied his feet to a wild bull that they had prepared to amuse themselves with torturing St. Saturninus.
The bull was chased out of the temple dragging St. Saturninus feet first down the column of stairs and down the hill leading out of the city.
So violently was this that St. Saturninus skull was crushed and his brains emptied out of his head. His limbs and blood were scattered until the cord finally broke.
Two devout women took the body and remains and hid them in a ditch where he remained until Constantine gave freedom to the Christians.
St. Hilary, Bishop of Toulouse, built a small chapel over the site where St. Saturninus was laid to rest. By the fourth century, a great Church was built in honor of the Saint. The date of this Martyrdom was 257 during the reign of the Roman Emperor Valerian.
I am reminded of how the people honored those who served the Lord giving their all for the glory of Heaven. Hebrews 12:1 states, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,.." Today and for all eternity, St. Saturninus is part of the great cloud of witnesses. He is part of our Catholic Hall of Fame.