mercredi 8 avril 2015

Saint DENIS (DIONYSIUS, DENYS) de CORINTHE, évêque et martyr

Saint Denis de Corinthe, évêque et martyr

Evêque de Corinthe, il était un des principaux chefs de l'Église du IIème siècle. Plusieurs de ses lettres à différentes Eglises existent toujours. Son récit du martyre des Saints Pierre et Paul à Rome est particulièrement important. Les Grecs le vénèrent comme martyr.

Saint Denys de Corinthe

Évêque ( 180)


Selon l'historien Eusèbe, il exerça une large influence par ses lettres adressées à diverses Églises, où il exhortait à la paix, à l'unité et à la fidélité à l'Évangile.

Commémoraison de saint Denis, évêque de Corinthe, vers 180. Par sa connaissance admirable de la parole de Dieu, il instruisit non seulement les fidèles de sa cité, mais encore, par ses lettres, les évêques des autres villes et des autres provinces.

Martyrologe romain

St. Dionysius
Bishop of Corinth about 170. The date is fixed by the fact that he wrote to Pope Soter (c. 168 to 176; Harnack gives 165-67 to 173-5). Eusebius in his Chronicle placed his "floruit" in the eleventh year of Marcus Aurelius (171). When Hegesippus was at Corinth in the time of Pope Anicetus, Primus was bishop (about 150-5), while Bacchyllus was Bishop of Corinth at the time of the Paschal controversy (about 190-8). Dionysius is only known to use through Eusebius, for St. Jerome (Illustrious Men 27) has used no other authority. Eusebius knew a collection of seven of the "Catholic Letters to the Churches" of Dionysius, together with a letter to him from Pinytus, Bishop of Cnossus, and a private letter of spiritual advice to a lady named Chrysophora, who had written to him.

Eusebius first mentions a letter to the Lacedaemonians, teaching orthodoxy, and enjoining peace and union. A second was to the Athenians, stirring up their faith exhorting them to live according to the Gospel, since they were not far from apostasy. Dionysius spoke of the recent martyrdom of their bishop, Publius (in the persecution of Marcus Aurelius), and says that Dionysius the Areopagite was the first Bishop of Athens. To the Nicomedians he wrote against Marcionism. Writing to Gortyna and the other dioceses of Crete, he praised the bishop, Philip, for his aversion to heresy. To the Church of Amastris in Pontus he wrote at the instance of Bacchylides and Elpistus (otherwise unknown), mentioning the bishop's name as Palmas; he spoke in this letter of marriage and continence, and recommended the charitable treatment of those who had fallen away into sin or heresy. Writing to the Cnossians, he recommended their bishop, Pinytus, not to lay the yoke of continence too heavily on the brethren, but to consider the weakness of most. Pinytus replied, after polite words, that he hoped Dionysius would send strong meat next time, that his people might not grow up on the milk of babes. This severe prelate is mentioned by Eusebius (IV, xxi) as an ecclesiastical writer, and the historian praises the tone of his letter.

But the most important letter is that to the Romans, the only one from which extracts have been preserved. Pope Soter had sent alms and a letter to the Corinthians:

For this has been your custom from the beginning, to do good to all the brethren in many ways, and to send alms to many Churches in different cities, now relieving the poverty of those who asked aid, now assisting the brethren in the mines by the alms you send, Romans keeping up the traditional custom of Romans, which your blessed bishop, Soter, has not only maintained, but has even increased, by affording to the brethren the abundance which he has supplied, and by comforting with blessed words the brethren who came to him, as a father his children.


You also by this instruction have mingled together the Romans and Corinthians who are the planting of Peter and Paul. For they both came to our Corinth and planted us, and taught alike; and alike going to Italy and teaching there, were martyred at the same time.


Today we have kept the holy Lord's day, on which we have read your letter, which we shall ever possess to read and to be admonished, even as the former one written to us through Clement.

The testimony to the generosity of the Roman Church is carried on by the witness of Dionysius of Alexandria in the third century; and Eusebius in the fourth declares that it was still seen in his own day in the great persecution. The witness to the martyrdom of Sts. Peter and Paul, kata ton auton kairon, is of first-rate importance, and so is the mention of the Epistle of Clement and the public reading of it. The letter of the pope was written "as a father to his children".

Dionysius's own letters were evidently much prized, for in the last extract he says that he wrote them by request, and that they have been falsified "by the apostles of the devil". No wonder, he adds, that the Scriptures are falsified by such persons.

Chapman, John. "St. Dionysius." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 7 Apr. 2015 <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Christine J. Murray.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.
Dionysius of Corinth B (RM)

Died c. 180; feast day in the Greek Church is November 20 or 29. Bishop Dionysius of Corinth was an outstanding leader of the Church in the second century, as well as an eloquent preacher. He is now best remembered as an ecclesiastical writer with which he attempted to instruct, exhort, and comfort those at a distance. Several of his letters to various churches are still extant. Especially noteworthy is that in which he records the martyrdom of SS. Peter and Paul in Rome. He says that after initiating the faith at Corinth, the Apostles both went to Italy, and there sealed their testimony with their blood. The Church historian Eusebius mentions several of his instructive letters to other churches. One extends thanks to the church of Rome, under the pontificate of Saint Soter, for the traditional alms received from them. He writes: "From the beginning, it is your custom to bestow your alms in all places, and to furnish subsistence to many churches. You send relief to the needy, especially to those who work in the mines; in which you follow the example of your fathers. Your blessed bishop Soter is so far from degenerating from your ancestors in that respect, that he goes beyond them; not to mention the comfort and advice he, with the bowels of a tender father towards his children, affords all that come to him. On this day we celebrated together the Lord's day, and read your letter, as we do that which was heretofore written to us by Clement." He means that they read these letters of instruction in the church after the reading of the holy Scriptures, and the celebration of the divine mysteries.

In another place Dionysius complains about the rampant heresies that sprang from the adoption of pagan philosophical principles, rather than from any perverse interpretation of the scriptures. Dionysius point out the source of the heretical errors and the philosophical sect from which each heresy arose.

The Greeks honor Saint Dionysius as a martyr because he suffered much for the faith, though he seems to have died in peace; while the Latin Church styles him a confessor. Pope Innocent III translated his relics to Saint Denys Abbey near Paris, where the monks believed him to be Dionysius the Areopagite (Benedictines, Husenbeth).

April 8

St. Dionysius of Corinth, Bishop and Confessor

From Eusebius, b. 4. c. 23. St. Jerom, Cat. c. 30

Second Age

ST. DIONYSIUS, bishop of Corinth, flourished under the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, and was one of the most holy and eloquent pastors of the church in the second age. Not content assiduously to instruct his own flock with the word of life, he comforted and exhorted others at a distance. Eusebius mentions several of his instructive letters to other churches, and one of thanks to the church of Rome, under the pontificate of St. Soter, for the alms received from them according to custom. “From the beginning,” says he, “it is your custom to bestow your alms in all places, and to furnish subsistence to many churches.—You send relief to the needy, especially to those who work in the mines; in which you follow the example of your fathers. Your blessed bishop Soter is so far from degenerating from your ancestors in that respect, that he goes beyond them; not to mention the comfort and advice he, with the bowels of a tender father towards his children, affords all that come to him. On this day we celebrated together the Lord’s day, and read your letter, as we do that which was heretofore written to us by Clement.” He means that they read these letters of instruction in the church after the reading of the holy scriptures, and the celebration of the divine mysteries. This primitive father says that SS. Peter and Paul, after planting the faith at Corinth, went both into Italy, and there sealed their testimony with their blood. He in another place complains that the ministers of the devil, that is, the heretics, had adulterated his works, and corrupted them by their poison. The monstrous heresies of the three first centuries sprang mostly, not from any perverse interpretation of the scriptures, but from erroneous principles of the heathenish schools of philosophy; whence it happened that those heresies generally bordered on some superstitious notions of idolatry. St. Dionysius, to point out the source of the heretical errors, showed from what sect of philosophers each heresy took its rise. The Greeks honour St. Dionysius as a martyr on the 29th of November, because he suffered much for the faith, though he seems to have died in peace: the Latins keep his festival on this day, and style him only confessor. Pope Innocent III. sent to the abbey of St. Denys, near Paris, the body of a saint of that name brought from Greece. The monks, who were persuaded that they were before possessed of the body of the Areopagite, take this second to be the body of St. Dionysius of Corinth, whose festival they also celebrate.

We adore the inscrutable judgments of God, and praise the excess of his mercy in calling us to his holy faith, when we see many to whom it was announced with all the reasonable proofs of conviction, reject its bright light, and resist the voice of heaven: also others who had so far despised all worldly considerations as to have embraced this divine religion, afterwards fall from this grace, and become the authors or abettors of monstrous heresies, by which they drew upon themselves the most dreadful curses. The source of their errors was originally in the disorder of their hearts, by which their understanding was misled. All those who have made shipwreck of their faith, fell because they wanted true simplicity of heart. This virtue has no affinity with worldly simplicity, which is a vice and defect, implying a want of prudence and understanding. But Christian simplicity is true wisdom and a most sublime virtue. It is a singleness of heart, by which a person both in his intention and all his desires and affections has no other object but the pure and holy will of God. This is grounded in self-knowledge, and in sincere humility and ardent charity. The three main enemies which destroy it, are, an attachment to creatures without us, an inordinate love of ourselves, and dissimulation or double dealing. This last, though most infamous and base, is a much more common vice than is generally imagined, for there are very few who are thoroughly sincere in their whole conduct towards God, their neighbour, and themselves. Perfect sincerity and an invariable uprightness is an essential part, yet only one ingredient of Christian simplicity. Nor is it enough to be also disengaged from all inordinate attachments to exterior objects: many who are free from the hurry and disturbance of things without them, nevertheless are strangers to simplicity and purity of heart, being full of themselves, and referring their thoughts and actions to themselves, taking an inordinate complacency in what concerns them, and full of anxieties and fear about what befals, or may befal them. Simplicity of the heart, on the contrary, settles the soul in perfect interior peace: as a child is secure in the mother’s arms, so is such a soul at rest in the bosom of her God, resigned to his   will, and desiring only to accomplish it in all things. The inexpressible happiness and advantages of this simplicity can only be discovered by experience. This virtue disposes the heart to embrace the divine revelation when duly manifested, and removes those clouds which the passions raise, and which so darken the understanding, that it is not able to discern the light of faith.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume IV: April. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.


Saint Dionysius of Corinth

During the persecution of Emperor Valerian he was arrested for his faith, tortured, and martyred with a group of fellow Christians.

  • thrown to wild animals
  • when they would not harm him, he was beheaded c.258 in Corinth, Greece
Dionysius (3) , bp. of Corinth, probably the successor of Primus, placed by Eusebius in his Chronicle under a.d. 171, (see also Eus. H. E. ii. 25, iii. 4, iv. 21, 23, 35; Hieron. Catal. 27). He was the writer of certain pastoral letters, which gained so much authority in his own lifetime that heretics (probably the followers of Marcion) found it worth while, as he complains, to circulate copies falsified by interpolations and omissions. Eusebius mentions having met with 8 of these letters—viz. seven which he calls "Catholic Epistles," addressed to Lacedemon, Athens, Nicomedia, Gortyna and other churches in Crete, Amastris and other churches in Pontus, Cnossus and Rome; and one to "his most faithful sister Chrysophora." Probably the letters were already collected into a volume and enumerated by Eusebius in the order they occurred there, or he would probably have mentioned the two Cretan letters consecutively. Nothing remains of them, except the short account of their contents given by Eusebius, and a few fragments of the letter to the Roman church which, though very scanty, throw considerable light on the state of the church at the time. Eusebius praises Dionysius for having given a share in his "inspired industry" to those in foreign lands. A bp. of Corinth might consider Lacedaemon and Athens as under his metropolitan superintendence, but that he should send letters of admonition to Crete, Bithynia, and Paphlagonia not only proves the reputation of the writer, but indicates the unity of the Christian community. A still more interesting proof of this is furnished by the letter to the Roman church, which would seem to be one of thanks for a gift of money, and in which he speaks of it as a custom of that church from the earliest times to send supplies to churches in every city to relieve poverty, and to support the brethren condemned to work in the mines, "a custom not only preserved, but increased by the blessed bp. Soter, who administered their bounty to the saints, and with blessed words exhorted the brethren that came up as an affectionate father his children." The epithet here applied to Soter is usually used of those deceased in Christ; but there are instances of its application to living persons, and Eusebius speaks of him as still bishop when the letter of Dionysius was written. This letter is remarkable also as containing the earliest testimony that St. Peter suffered martyrdom in Italy at the same time as St. Paul. The letters indicate the general prevalence of episcopal government when they were written. In most of them the bishop of the church addressed is mentioned with honour; Palmas in Pontus, Philip and Pinytus in Crete, Soter at Rome. That to the Athenians reminds them of a former bp. Publius, who had suffered martyrdom during persecutions which reduced that church very low, from which condition it was revived by the zeal of Quadratus, the successor of Publius. This form of government was then supposed to date from apostolic times, for in the same letter Dionysius the Areopagite is counted as the first bp. of Athens; but the importance of the bishop seems to be still subordinate to that of his church. The letters, including that to Rome, are each addressed to the church, not to the bishop; and Soter's own letter, like Clement's former one, was written not in his own name, but that of his church ( ὑμῶν τὴν ἐπιστολὴν ). The letters, indeed, of Dionysius himself were written in his own name, and he uses the 1st pers. sing. in speaking of them, but adds that they were written at the request of brethren. Eusebius mentions two, Bacchylides and Elpistus, at whose instance that to the churches of Pontus was written.

The letters also illustrate the value attached by Christians to their sacred literature. Dionysius informs the church of Rome that the day on which he wrote, being the Lord's day, had been kept holy, and that they had then read the letter of the Roman church, and would continue from time to time to read it for their instruction, as they were in the habit of reading the letter formerly written from the same church by the hand of Clement; and speaking of the falsification of his own letters, he adds, "No marvel, then, that some have attempted to tamper with the Scriptures of the Lord, since they have attempted it on writings not comparable to them (οὐ τοιαύταις )." Thus we learn that it was then customary to read sacred books in the Christian assemblies; that this practice was not limited to our canonical books; that attempts were made by men regarded as heretics to corrupt these writings, and that such attempts were jealously guarded against. The value attached by Christians to writings was regulated rather by the character of their contents than by the dignity of the writer; for while there is no trace that the letter of Soter thus honoured at Corinth passed beyond that church, the letter of Dionysius himself became the property of the whole Christian community. But we learn the preeminent authority enjoyed by certain books, called the Scriptures of the Lord, which we cannot be wrong in identifying with some of the writings of our N.T. Dionysius, in the very brief fragments remaining, shews signs of acquaintance with the St. Matt., the Acts, I. Thess., and the Apocalypse. There is, therefore, no reason for limiting to the O.T. the "expositions of the divine Scriptures," which Eusebius tells us were contained in the letter of Dionysius to the churches of Pontus. In speaking of attempts to corrupt the Scriptures, Dionysius probably refers to the heresy of Marcion, against which, we are told, he wrote in his letter to the church of Nicomedia, "defending the rule of truth." We cannot lay much stress on a rhetorical passage where Jerome (Ep. ad Magnum, 83) includes Dionysius among those who had applied secular learning to the refutation of heresy, tracing each heresy to its source in the writings of the philosophers. Dionysius had probably also Marcionism in view, when he exhorted the church of Gortyna "to beware of the perversion of heretics," for we are told that its bp. Philip had found it necessary to compose a treatise against Marcion. We may see traces of the same heresy in the subjects treated of in the letter to the churches of Pontus (the home of Marcion), to which Dionysius gave instructions concerning marriage and chastity (marriage having been proscribed by Marcion), and which he also exhorted to receive back those who returned after any fall, whether into irregularity of living or into heretical error. But the rigorist tendencies here combated were exhibited also, not only among the then rising sects of the Encratites and Montanists, but by men of undoubted orthodoxy. Writing to the Cnossians Dionysius exhorts Pinytus the bp., a man highly commended by Eusebius for piety, orthodoxy, and learning, not to impose on the brethren too heavy a burden of chastity, but to regard the weakness of the many. Eusebius reports Pinytus as replying with expressions of high respect for Dionysius, which were understood by Rufinus to imply an adoption of his views. But he apparently persevered in his own opinion, for he exhorts Dionysius to impart to his people some more advanced instruction, lest if he fed them always with milk instead of with more solid food, they should continue in the state of children.

We are not told anything of the time or manner of the death of Dionysius. It must have been before the Paschal disputes in a.d. 198, when we find Palmas of Pontus still alive, but a new bishop (Bacchylus) at Corinth. The Greek church counts Dionysius among martyrs, and the Menaea name the sword as the instrument of his death; but there is no authority for his martyrdom earlier than Cedrenus, i.e. the end of the 11th cent. The Roman church only counts him among confessors. The abbey of St. Denis in France claimed to be in possession of the body of Dionysius of Corinth, alleged to have been brought from Greece to Rome, and given them in 1215 by Innocent III. The pope's bull is given by the Bollandists under April 8. See Routh, Rel. Sac. (2nd ed.), i. 178-201.

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Bibliography Information

Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Dionysius (3), Bishop of Corinth'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. 1911.


San Dionigi di Corinto Vescovo

Corinto, sec. II

Venne nominato vescovo della sua città. Le poche notizie sicure che si hanno di lui risalgono a S. Girolamo e soprattutto ad Eusebio di Cesarea. Eusebio ci ha conservato frammenti interessanti di otto sue lettere, inviate alla Chiesa di Atene, di Lacedemone, di Amastri nel Ponto, di Cnosso in Creta. Tali frammenti, nonostante siano privi di notizie su S. Dionigi sono comunque documenti importanti e unici. Da essi si ricavano informazioni preziose sulla religiosità di alcune città e regioni, durante il pontificato di S. Sotere. Dionigi viene ricordato come martire nel Martirologio Romano ma anche sulla sua morte, non ci sono informazioni certe.

Etimologia: Dionigi = consacrato a Dioniso (è il dio Bacco)

Emblema: Bastone pastorale

Martirologio Romano: Commemorazione di san Dionigi, vescovo di Corinto, che, dotato di una mirabile conoscenza della parola di Dio, istruì con la predicazione i fedeli della sua città e con lettere anche i vescovi di altre città e province.

E' noto dalle brevi notizie di san Girolamo (De viris illustribus, XXVII) e, soprattutto, di Eusebio di Cesarea, che ne loda lo zelo apostolico e ci ha conservato importanti frammenti di otto sue lettere inviate alle Chiese di Atene, di cui era vescovo Publio, ucciso per la fede all'inizio dell'impero di Marco Aurelio, di Lacedemone, di Nicomedia, di Gortina in Creta (oggi Gerópotamos), di Amastri nel Ponto, di Cnosso in Creta, il cui vescovo Pinito rispose in termini di somma deferenza, e di Roma. Un'altra fu indirizzata a certa Crisofora, una buona cristiana peraltro ignota.

Questi frammenti danno notizie preziose sulle condizioni religiose di alcune città e regioni durante il pontificato di san Sotero (166-75). 

Degno di nota è un frammento della lettera ai fedeli di Roma: «Vobis consuetudo est, jam inde ab ipso religionis exordio, ut fratres omnes vario beneficiorum genere affìciatis, et Ecclesiis quam plurimis, quae in singulis urbibus constitutae sunt, necessaria vitae subsidia transmittatis. Et hac ratione tum egentium inopiam sublevatis, turn fratribus, qui in metallis opus faciunt, necessaria suppeditatis: per haec quae ab initio transmittere consuevistis munera, morem institutumque Romanorum, a maioribus vestris acceptum, Romani retinentes. Atque hunc morem beatus Episcopus vester Soter, non servavit solum, verum etiam adauxit, turn munera sanctis destinata copiose subministrans, turn fratres peregre advenientes, tamquam liberos suos pater amantissimus, beatis sermonibus consolando».

«Avete ereditato dagli avi l’usanza di prendervi cura in vario modo di tutti i fratelli, e di inviare aiuti a molte Chiese presenti in ogni città; avete alleviato così le sofferenze dei bisognosi e siete venuti incontro ai fratelli condannati ai lavori forzati nelle miniere con quei sussidi che voi, o Romani, inviate da sempre, secondo l’usanza dei vostri padri; E il vostro beato vescovo Sotero l’ha non solamente conservata, ma anche incrementata; egli li ha beneficiati con gli aiuti inviati ai santi ed esortando i fratelli con parole di beatitudine, come fa un padre affettuoso con i figli»: con queste parole, il vescovo di Corinto sottolinea sia la preminenza della Chiesa di Roma, che soccorre le Chiese figlie in un’epoca in cui non si era ancora affermato il primato della sede romana, sia la carità cristiana che ha profondamente segnato il pontificato di san Sotero, animato dall’amore di padre verso i fratelli sull’esempio del Vangelo.

Il Sinassario Costantinopolitano lo ricorda il 29 novembre come martire, benché non si conosca nulla di certo sulla sua morte. In Occidente per primo Usuardo lo introdusse nel suo Martirologio, donde passò nel Martirologio Romano all'8 aprile. L'elogio di questo è formato in gran parte dalle parole di san Girolamo.

Il suo corpo, trasferito a Roma, fu dato da Innocenzo III (1198-1216) ad Emerico, priore del monastero di San Dionigi in agro parisiensi.

Autore: Pietro Burchi