Saint Saturninus was the first bishop of Toulouse. He was sent by Pope Fabien to evangelize Gaul, and died a martyr’s death in the year 250, during the persecution of the Roman Emperor Decius. He refused to deny the Christian faith and to sacrifice to idols, and was attached to a bull which dragged his body across the city. He was buried at the present site of the basilica, where the original necropolis of the Roman city was placed.
A martyr is a person tortured or put to death because of his or her faith. A martyr is a witness (the meaning of the Greek word) to the value of the Christian faith, which gives meaning to the martyr’s whole life. Saturninus accepted death, both like and with Christ, rather than live having denied Him. His death is understood as a victory over the spirit of Evil, and over the temptation to renounce his faith. His spilled blood consecrates Toulouse and the people of Toulouse to Christ.