Jonah 3.1-10; Psalm 129; Luke 10.38-42
Denis’ name is derived from the Latin name Dionysius (Greek Dionysios); for that reason, perhaps, he has sometimes been thought to be the ‘Dionysius the Areopagite’ (the Areopagus was the hill on which the high council of Athens met to deliberate) converted by
St Paul in Athens. [Acts 17.34] (There is a tradition, impossible to verify, that Dionysius became the first bishop of Athens.) The St Denis whom we commemorate today, on the other hand, lived almost certainly in the mid-3rd Century. He was sent to Gaul and made Bishop of Paris. He was martyred by being beheaded during the persecution of Roman Emperor Diocletian around 250; legendarily when the sword had severed his head Diocletian picked it up and walked several miles with it, preaching a sermon on repentance as he went. (He is perhaps the most famous cephalophore in history.) He is the patron saint of France, and during the 14th Century ‘black death’ he was accounted one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers whose intercession is particularly effectual.