Saint Gatian, who lived in the third century, was the founder and bishop of Tours. He came to Gaul with Saint Dionysius of Paris during the consulate of Decius and Gratus around the year 250. A most pious man and a true disciple of Christ, Gatian spent the next fifty years evangelizing this pagan area. Because the people were so ingrained in their idolatry of false gods, his evangelization efforts were not only difficult but also dangerous. He underwent much persecution and threats were constantly being made on his life. Many Masses were held in grottos and caves where he would gather his converts to celebrate the mysteries of the faith. Despite all the obstacles he encountered while spreading the Gospel, he persevered. He didn’t fear his persecutors, for he did not value his life above bringing souls to Christ. He was always ready to lay down his life for the faith.
Some legends claim that Saint Gatian was one of the seventy-two disciples of Christ and that Saint Peter himself had sent him to Gaul during the first century. This would mean, of course, that he lived at an earlier time than we have recorded. However, Gregory of Tours, a bishop who lived in the sixth century, refutes this story in his writings.
It is through the evangelization efforts of men like Gatian that we now have one billion Catholics worldwide. Where would Christianity be today if we had not had holy men like this saint who was willing to die for his faith and continued amidst persecution and threats on his life to preach the gospel? We are all called to be saints and to put Christ first in our lives, just as Gatian did.
Lord Jesus, thank you for the holy examples of your saints, like Saint Gatian. We pray that You will continue to raise up holy shepherds to watch over Your flock and lead us to eternal life. Amen.
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Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary