also called Dionysius, Dennis, or Denys) is a Christian martyr and saint. In the third century, he was bishop of Paris. He was martyred in approximately 250, and is venerated especially in the Roman Catholic Church as patron of Paris, France and one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. The modern name "Denis" derives from the ancient name Dionysius, "servant of Dionysus".
Gregory of Tours states that Denis was bishop of the Parisii and was martyred by being beheaded by a sword. The earliest document giving an account of his life and martyrdom, the Passio SS. Dionysii Rustici et Eleutherii dates from c. 600, is mistakenly attributed to the poet Venantius Fortunatus, and is legendary. Nevertheless, it appears from the Passio that Denis was sent from Italy to convert Gaul in the third century, forging a link with the "apostles to the Gauls" reputed to have been sent out under the direction of Pope Fabian. This was after the persecutions under Emperor Decius had all but dissolved the small Christian community at Lutetia. Denis, with his inseparable companions Rusticus and Eleutherius, who were martyred with him, settled on the Île de la Cité in the River Seine. Roman Paris lay on the higher ground of the Left Bank, away from the river.
Denis, having irritated the tempers of heathen priests for his many conversions, was executed by beheading on the highest hill near Paris (now Montmartre), which was likely to have been a druidic holy place. The martyrdom of Denis and his companions gave it its current name, which in Old French means "mountain of martyrs". According to the Golden Legend, after his head was chopped off, Denis picked it up and walked several miles, preaching a sermon the entire way. The site where he stopped preaching and actually died was made into a small shrine that developed into the Saint Denis Basilica, which became the burial place for the kings of France. Another account has his corpse being thrown in the Seine, but recovered and buried later that night by his converts.
Propers for Denis of Paris - Bishop and Martyr
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst strengthen thy blessed martyr Denis with the virtue of constancy in faith and truth: Grant us in like manner for love of thee to despise the prosperity of this world, and to fear none of its adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle - 2 Esdras 2:42-48
The Gospel - St. Matthew 10:16-22
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