Tuesday, October 02, 2007

St. Denis

Yesterday, I tagged St. Denis as one of the reasons to drink this month. Guess who St. Denis is? You can find him in Paris. At the Cathedral of Notre Dame, to be exact.
The next time you are standing in front of Notre-Dame, look closely at its left-hand portal. There you will find a rather strange sculpture of a saint, complete with halo, holding his head in his hands. This is Saint Denis, the first bishop of Paris, who met his death around 273 A.D., almost two millennia ago. The Romans, who then occupied Paris, already had their hands full in fighting off barbarian hordes when this charismatic Christian arrived on the scene. According to legend, Roman soldiers tortured Denis near the present site of Notre-Dame and then decapitated him on the slopes of Montmartre. Then—still according to legend—the martyred saint astonished one and all by picking up his head and walking northward almost four miles until he collapsed on the site now marked by the cathedral (formerly the abbey church) that bears his name. No matter that the legend was created centuries afterwards, probably by the monks of Saint-Denis. It gave their abbey and their founder a special aura, and Denis—whose torture and martyrdom were doubtless real enough, if not so fanciful—went on to gain a special prominence among French saints. His abbey church became the traditional burial place for French royalty, and his legend continued through the centuries. Which is why, on the portal of Notre-Dame or wherever you see him depicted, he is the saint who patiently holds his head in his hands.

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Anonymous Chi from the Cool Clouds said...


I think there's something like that at the San Agustin Museum in Intramuros, Manila or at the church of San Dionisio, Paranaque.

But something that could beat that would be Camarines Norte's "Santo Muerto."

You bet, this local saint is for real Gothic worshippers -- all bones and skeleton.

5:17 PM  

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