Saint of the Day – 23 May – Saint Desiderius of Langres (c 307-c 356) Martyr, the Third Bishop of Langres, France. St Desiderius is a Cephalophores (one who picks up his head, after being beheaded and walks). Born in c 307 in Genoa, Italy and died by being beheaded in c 356 near Langres, France. Patronages – of the City and Diocese of Langres, of difficult or impossible situations, he is invoked for assistance for those seeking the truth, of Assago and Castelnuovo Scrivia both towns in Italy. Also known as – Desiderius of Genoa, Desiderio of…, Dizier of…, Didier of…, Désiré of… Additional Memorial – 19 January (translation of his relics).
The Roman Martyrology reads: “Near Langres in Lugdunense Gaul, now in France, the passion of St Desiderius, offering himself serenely for the good of the flock entrusted to him.”
Desiderius occupies the third place in the list of Bishops of Langres, it seems he was a native of the surroundings of Genoa and miraculously appointed to the Episcopal See of Langres.
A cleric from the aforementioned City named Varnacario, wrote an account of his Martyrdom at the beginning of the seventh century, based on local traditions. According to this account by Varnacario, the Bishop Desiderius was beheaded during an invasion of the Vandals in which he offered himself to save his flock.
A legend says that after his beheading, the holy Bishop, like so many other cephalophores, picked up his head and returned to the City, through a crack in the rock that had opened to let him pass, this opening is still shown today.
The City of Langres also remembers him on 19 January, the anniversary of the transfer of the relics of St Desiderius which occurred in 1315. His cult spread, not only in France but also in Italy, Switzerland, Germany. He is the Patron Saint of the City of Langres and many Churches in the Diocese are dedicated to him. His tomb was kept in a Benedictine Priory in the centre of the City.
In 1354, a famous brotherhood apostolate was founded in his honour to which Kings and Princes belonged. St Desiderius is invoked as a witness to the truth of the oaths and as a protector in difficult situations.
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