St Symphorian

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Martyr. This third or fourth century saint was one of the most revered martyrs of Roman Gaul. According to tradition, Symphorian was a young nobleman who was converted by Benignus at Autun. When he was accused of showing contempt for the goddess Cybele during a festival in her honour, he was dragged before the governor and flogged but refused to recant.

It is said that as he was taken away to be beheaded, his mother, Blessed Augusta standing on a city wall, called out encouragement to him saying: "son, son, o Symphorian, remember your god!" This scene is depicted in a dramatic painting by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres in Autun cathedral.

Bishop Euphronius, who died in 490, built a church over Symphorian's grave, connected with a monastery, the Abbey of St Symphorian. One Abbot Germanus later became Bishop of Paris, where he dedicated a chapel to the saint. Genesius of Clermont also built a church dedicated to him at Clermont.

Saint Symphorian is the patron saint of Autun. His veneration spread at an early date through the empire of the Franks. His cult was especially popular at Tours; Saint Gregory of Tours relates a miracle performed by the saint.

There is a St Symphorian's Church at Veryan, Cornwall and another at Durrington in West Sussex, now a suburb of the town of Worthing.


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