January 02, 2019

⛪ Saint Defendente the Theban - Martyr

Saint Defendente,
Pray for us !
⛪ Saint of the Day : January 2

 Other Names :
• Defendente of Thebes •  Defendens of Thebes

 Memorial :
• 22 September as one of the Martyrs of the Theban Legion
• 14 September (Romano di Lombardia, Italy)
• 4th Sunday in August (Torre Canavese, Italy)
• Last Sunday in August (Montemarzo di Asti, Italy)

 Died :
• Beheaded c.286 along the Rhone river in Agauno (modern Marseille, France)

 Patronage :
• Against fire •  Against wolves •  16 towns in Italy

St. Defendente is one of the Christian martyrs of the Tebean Legion, led by St. Maurizio, who were martyred, because they did not want to leave the Christian faith, under the Roman emperor Maximian (250-310) of Pannonian origin. 

The massacre took place through beheading, in Agauno, near the Rhone in the territory of Marseilles, where they were encamped, to be then sent to fight against the restless Gauls; before the departure a solemn sacrifice was made to the gods, who did not want to take part in the Christian soldiers present among the troops.

Maximian to tame this opposition, he scourged and beheaded a soldier every ten, but by not withdrawing anyone from his faith, he ordered to decapitate all the others; the exact number of martyrs is not known, certainly hundreds, but not the entire Theban Legion, from Egypt, which was made up of about a thousand men. 

Martyrdom had to take place around 286; during the episcopate of Teodoro, bishop of Martigny, around 380, a Gallo-Roman cemetery was found and it was thought that it was the burial place of these soldiers, for which the bishop had a church erected in their honor by transferring the relics ; the cult began to spread and various churches, basilicas and abbeys were dedicated to the martyr saints of Agauno, especially for s. Maurizio the commander.

For St. Defendant it is important to know that at least since the fourteenth century (1328) it enjoyed a wide cult in Northern Italy, in the cities of Chivasso, Casale Monferrato, Mescia, Novara, Lodi, etc. the party was celebrated on January 2nd; to him were called oratorios, altars and confraternities. 

He was shown dressed as a soldier and was invoked against the danger of wolves and fires. Instead in the territory of Marseilles it is celebrated on September 25, but only recently has a church been dedicated to it.

There is an oratory dedicated to him at Solto Collina. There is also a church dedicated to him at Clusone, the church of San Defendente, and another at Invorio.

Until 1476 his relics, according to the 1578 Martyrologium Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae of Pietro Galesino, were kept in the church of Santa Croce in Casale Monferrato, which suggested that his martyrdom may have taken place in that region.

The painter Defendente Ferrari, born at Chivasso, where St. Defendente was venerated, thus carries the baptismal name of this martyr.

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