Gereon and companions

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Gregory of Tours (538—594)

Bede (c. 673—735) monk, historian, and theologian


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(d. 304(?),

martyrs of Cologne. According to Gregory of Tours, these fifty martyrs were soldiers of the Theban Legion who were put to death for the name of Christ. Because of the rich mosaics with which their chapel was decorated they were called the Golden Saints a splendid Romanesque church survives there, dedicated in their honour. Although they are sometimes said to be purely local saints of Cologne, they are mentioned in the Martyrology of Bede, and their feast was celebrated in the Sarum calendar and in those of Durham and Barking. The martyrology entries are confusing: from being fifty in number they became 392; 330 more were commemorated at Xanten, and there are entries under 9, 10, and 15 October which very likely refer to the same group of martyrs. A 13th-century Cistercian, Helinand, wrote a Legend for them. In art Gereon is represented either as a Roman legionary or as a medieval knight wearing a cross on his chest and bearing lance and shield. As a soldier he was presumably patron of knights from the Cologne area and like other saints who were beheaded, he was invoked against headaches and migraine. See also Ursula for a similar Legend, also from Cologne. Feast: usually 10 October.

AA.SS. Oct. V (1786), 14–60; C.M.H., pp. 547–8, 550, 557; B.L.S., x. 64–5; Réau, ii. 581–2. E.B.K. after 1100.

Subjects: Christianity.

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