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The Story of Saint Denis, Who Picked Up His Head After It Was Cut Off

Denis of Paris was a 3rd-century Christian martyr and saint. Denis is the most famous cephalophore in Christian legend, with a popular story claiming that the decapitated bishop picked up his head and walked several miles while preaching a sermon on repentance.

Saint Denis walking with his head

Before dying decapitated, Denis and his companions were said to have suffered terribly.


Denis was part of six people sent by Pope Fabian to convert Gaul to Christianity. Christianity, however, was frowned upon by the Romans authorities. Denis chose to set his place of worship in a hidden crypt, underground. 

Saint Denis of Paris

the Martyrdom of Saint Denis

The execution by beheading did not take place within the walls of Lutetia, but rather outside of it, to the North, on a tall hill, that Christians had come to nickname “the Mount of Martyrs”, due to the high number of executions that took place there against Christians. 

The main Façade of Saint Denis basilica

According to the legend, after his beheading, Denis would have picked up his severed head and walked North, for six kilometers, before finally collapsing in a place of his choosing where he had decided to bury his head. 

Content created and supplied by: Mainooco (via Opera News )

Christian Fabian Gaul Paris Saint Denis

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