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Saint Denis and the Pot of Basil

by Catherine Heloise

It was Rusticus who wanted to convert the heathen Parisii, not Denis.

(It was certainly not Eleutherius.)

Denis had been quite content ministering to the small community of believers that met in his house church in a small village not far from Athens. They were a close-knit and harmonious group, and he had looked forward to growing old with them, as they helped and encouraged one another, and shared a friendly sort of hospitality with their neighbours.

(Their neighbours returned this kindness by turning a blind eye to their unwholesome monotheism. What the Romans didn’t know, it was generally felt, could not hurt anyone. And didn’t the Empire have enough to do, with all the troubles in Rome, the assassinations, and the civil wars, and rumours of barbarians in the north? There was no need to bother them about two dozen or so religious eccentrics who were harming nobody.)

And so Denis had spent his days peacefully, growing vegetables and herbs and olives, tending th…

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