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St. Gratianus

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Saint Gratianus of Tours

Bishop & Confessor

Gratianus was one of seven bishops sent by Pope St. Fabian to evangelize Gaul, now modern France, in the third century. Gratianus was a particular friend of St. Denis, who would go on to establish his see at Paris. Gratianus founded his own diocese at Tours, where he struggled for decades against the deeply entrenched idolatry of the locals. His fervent but tiny flock was often forced to worship in caves, and the holy bishop himself was frequently on the run from bloody-minded pagans, seeking to put him to a death he otherwise would have welcomed joyfully, but avoided for the sake of continuing to lead his congregation. After some fifty years of this difficult but devout episcopate, Gratianus finally died the natural death of a confessor in the late third century. His diocese nearly dissipated entirely, with no bishop for several decades, but the few remaining Christians preserved the memory of their first bishop until veneration of Gratianus flowered under the famed St. Martin of Tours, who maintained a lifelong devotion to his predecessor in that see. The feast of Our Lady’s Expectation, also observed today, is a reminder of a time when the Annunciation was celebrated on this date because of a ban on all feasts during the season of Lent.


Traditional Roman Martyrology for December 18th

AT Philippi, in Macedonia, the birthday of the holy martyrs Rufus and Zosimus, who were of the number of the disciples, by whom the primitive church was founded among the Jews and the Greeks. Their happy martyrdom is mentioned by St. Polycarp, in his epistle to the Philippians.

At Laodicea, in Syria, the martyrdom of the Saints Theotimus and Basilian.

In Africa, the holy martyrs Quinctus, Simplicius, and others, who suffered in the persecution of Decius and Valerian.

In the same country, St. Moysetes, martyr.

Also, in Africa, the holy martyrs Victurus, Victor, Victorinus, Adjutor, Quartus, and thirty others.

At Mopsuestia, in Cilicia, St. Auxentius, bishop, who, while he was a soldier under Licinius, preferred to surrender his military insignia rather than to offer grapes to Bacchus. Having been made bishop, he was renowned for merit, and rested in peace.

At Tours, St. Gratian, consecrated first bishop of that city by pope St. Fabrian. Celebrated for many miracles, he calmly went to his repose in the Lord.

℣. And elsewhere many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.

℟. Thanks be to God.

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