Sunday, 29 November 2020


Identified as one of the seventy-two disciples at the Last Supper—the image of the head table is the one we are most familiar with—Greek bishop and martyr dispatched by Pope Fabian, himself famously elected to office after a pigeon alighted on his head during the conclave, to Toulouse as one of the apostles to the Gauls to re-establish Christian communities after Emperor Decius ordered their dissolution, is venerated on this day on the occasion of his death in 257. Attributing the silence of their pagan oracles to the constant presence of this meddlesome priest—their altars at the capitol (le Capitole de Toulouse) passed by congregants daily on their way to the Christian church, they seized Saturninus, who refusing to sacrifice to their gods, tied him to a raging bull and to be dragged through the streets until the rope broke. A similar fate befell one of Saturnin’s pupils, Saint Fermin, who died in Pamplona. Symbolically this martyrdom is an inversion of the mysteries of the cult of Mithras, involving the ritual slaughtering of a bull. Called tauroctony, and this tautology thereof is enshrined in many of the names of streets, squares and churches of Toulouse.