Saint Gatianus of Tours

Saint Gatianus of Tours

Saint Gatianus of Tours was the first Bishop of Tours. He was a missionary and was the founding Bishop of the see of Tours and was one of the Seven apostles of Gaul.

Pope Fabian sent out seven Bishops from Rome to Gaul to preach the Gospel – Gatianus to Tours, Trophimus to Arles, Paul to Narbonne, Saturnin to Toulouse, Denis to Paris, Austromoine to Clermont and Martial to Limoges. Gatianus arrived with St Dionysius of Paris, about the middle of the third century and preached the faith principally at Tours in Gaul, where he fixed his episcopal see.

There were few Christians in Tours at that time. Gatianus is said to have lain concealed in a cave on the banks of the Loire in one of the troubled years of his Episcopate. The great Abbey of Marmoutier was built at that spot. Gatianus used to visit the city only for preaching. He devoted half a century to evangelisation, amidst innumerable difficulties, but with great success too.

In a part of the Empire where Mithraism was a dominating force among the legions, the Abbé Jaud reports that Gatianus retreated into a grotto and there celebrated the mystical banquet. Gatianus was often portrayed officiating a ceremony in a cavern-like setting.

He established a hospice for the poor outside the walls of Tours. There he lay, overcome with weariness, after five decades of fasting, penances and toil. And there the Saviour appeared to him, saying, “Fear not! Thy crown is readied, and the Saints await thy arrival in Heaven.” The date was the 18 December 301.

After his death, the Bishopric of Tours was orphaned for 36 years due to the persecution of Christians by the Emperor Diocletian. Only his successor St Litorius (337-371) was able to build the first church in Tours. Bishop St Martin of Tours found the burial site of St Gatianus and had them transferred to this church, and then today’s cathedral was built.

Other Saints of the Day
1. Saint Rufus
2. Saint Adjutor
3. Saint Bodagisil
4. Saint Peter Truat
5. Saint Quintus

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