The Martyred Saint Whose Death Brought Springtime

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A Brief History

On this day, September 25th, Catholics remember the death of Spanish Saint Fermin, the first bishop of Pamplona, in 303 A.D…and the miracles that followed!

Digging Deeper

Saint Fermin is mostly associated with the well-known “Running of the Bulls”, which actually occurs as part of a seven day festival in honor of the saint.  Yet, his actual martyrdom has nothing to do with bulls chasing people!

Runners surround the bulls on Estafeta Street

Saint Fermin lived during the Roman Empire’s transition period from the persecutions of Christians by Emperor Diocletian before the toleration of Christianity by Emperor Constantine the Great.  As such, Fermin converted to Christianity at a time when doing so meant risking harassment by pagan authorities.  As with many Christian martyrs under Diocletian’s bloody reign, Fermin also succumbed to this intolerance.  After preaching the gospel in Amiens in what is today France, Fermin was beheaded.

What made him a saint actually concerns what happened with his corpse rather than what occurred during his life.  Although dead, according to those familiar with his relics, his remains caused various miraculous events to occur.  Allegedly, a sweet odor that arose from his grave somehow managed to not only cause ice and snow to melt, bringing about some sort of miraculous spring, but flowers to grow, the sick to be cured, and even trees to inclined reverently toward what remained of Fermin.

The grave of St Firmin is revealed.

Over the centuries afterward, numerous locations in France and Spain, and possibly Anglo-Saxon England, establish long-running festivals to commemorate the saint’s life, martyrdom, and the miracles associated with his relics.

Question for students (and subscribers): Have any of you ever been to Spain?  If so, have you ever participated in the Running of the Bulls?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

As will always be the case with saints, whether you believe the story of the miracles of course rests upon your own faith.  Nevertheless, you can see his festival alive and well today by visiting the official Running of the Bulls website and maybe planning your own trip to partake in the (DANGEROUS!!) festivities!  You can also visit a website dedicated exclusively to the saint here.

The featured image in this article, St Firmin’s body being exhumed and translated to its final resting place, has been released into the public domain by theoliane, the copyright holder of this work, who has granted anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.


About Author

Dr. Zar graduated with a B.A. in French and history, a Master’s in History, and a Ph.D. in History. He currently teaches history in Ohio.