Denis, Leonardi and Newman

We have two saints on the universal calendar today, and one blessed yet to be put thereon, who will be canonized this Sunday.

In historical order, the first is Saint Denis, patron of Paris, her first bishop, and of France. He was likely martyred in the mid-third century in the Decian persecution, as the legend goes, a cephalophore: That is, he was decapitated after a prison sentence, on the hill now known as Montmartre overlooking city (where the basilica Sacre-Couer now stands, with perpetual adoration). The good bishop then picked up that same head, and walked several miles, preaching as he went, until he reached the site where the great church of Saint Denis – ransacked in the French Revolution – now stands.

The second is Saint John Leonardi (+1609) priest of the Catholic (counter)-reformation – how I dislike that term, as thought Catholics were countering the proper ‘reformation’ of the Protestants – who first trained as a pharmacist (who needs lots of prayers in our era). He devoted his priestly work to the formation of youth, and was friends and spiritual directee of none other than Saint Philip Neri, who esteemed ‘Father Giovanni’ highly – which is saying much, since the good Father Philp could read hearts and souls, whom one could not impress lightly. He died of influenza he caught while ministering to his brethren in a plague, and many miracles have been attributed to his intercession.

And I will post later this morning on Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (+1890), to be canonized, this Sunday, whose memorial is commemorated on this day, when he converted to the one, true Faith in 1845.