Today is a special day on the calendar for a couple of reasons.

The beheaded St. Denis with 2 angels, Notre Dame de ParisThe first being that it is the feast day of the martyr, St. Denis, who is my baptismal Patron Saint! St. Denis (also known as St. Dionysius) was the first bishop of Paris, France, and was martyred with a priest, St. Rusticus and a deacon, St. Eleutherius.

They were beheaded around the year 258, on Montmartre (mount of the martyrs).  Legend says that after his beheading, supported by two angels, St. Denis carried his severed head and walked down the hill to his burial place.  You can see a depiction of that in this photo from Notre Dame de Paris (photo by Flickr user wallyg).  About 200 years later, another Parisian saint, St. Genevieve, had a church built over St. Denis’ grave.  Not coincidentally, St. Genevieve is my Confirmation Patron Saint!  (More about her on 3 January.)

St. Denis is the Patron Saint of: France, Paris, possessed people, against headaches, against frenzy, against hydrophobia, against strife, and against rabies.

Second, today marks the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius XII’s death. Ken at HallowedGround has a nice pictorial tribute to the pope.  The New Liturgical Movement has lots of photos from Pope Benedict’s Mass in honor of this occasion, and Zenit has the homily and more.

I don’t have any glorious photos or dazzling insights to contribute, but I do love Pope Pius XII, in spite of all the controversy that sadly still surrounds him.  All the evidence I’ve seen indicates that he was a brave and wise man who did all that anybody in his position could have done amid the nightmarish crises of World War II to stand up for peace and sanity, the protection of innocents, and human dignity.  He was admired and praised by his contemporaries, and if there’s anything that makes my skin crawl, from an intellectual and scholarly point of view, it is revisionist history!  It’s malicious, it’s dishonest, it’s self-serving, it’s cowardly… it’s contrary to real knowledge and wisdom in every way.  You can’t go much lower than to try to assassinate the character of a man who isn’t here to confront you.  But I digress.  In any case, I think Pope Pius XII deserves to be recognized as a Saint, and I believe he will be fairly soon, regardless of whether or not the whole world approves.

Related post: The Truth about Pope Pius XII

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