Saint Saturninus of Toulouse: The Iconography

St. Saturninus of Toulouse, Bishop. In the time of Decius he was taken to the Capitol of that city and thrown down from the arch so that he tumbled along all the steps. His skull was broken, his brains poured out, and his body was mangled. Thus he returned to Christ his worthy soul. – Roman Martyrology for November 29

Saturninus was the first bishop of Toulouse. Refusing to sacrifice to the gods, he was dragged by bulls to a set of stairs, then thrown down those stairs so that his skull broke and his brains burst out. Images of his death usually show both the bulls and the stairs, as at right.

Prepared in 2015 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University. Revised 2016-09-14.

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The Martyrdom of Saturninus, from a 14th-century copy of the Golden Legend by the workshop of Richard de Montbaston (Source: Wikimedia Commons)


Altar frontal with St. Saturninus in the center (See description page)

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DATES

  • Lived in the 3rd century

NAMES

  • Often called by his French name, St. Sernin, which one occasionally sees spelled Cernin.

HAGIOGRAPHY