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Denis, St (died c.250), Italian-born French bishop, patron saint of France; Roman name Dionysius. According to tradition he was one of a group of seven missionaries sent from Rome to convert Gaul; he became bishop of Paris and was martyred in the reign of the emperor Valerian. He was martyred by being beheaded, and according to legend subsequently walked two leagues carrying his own head. He is taken as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. His feast day is 9 October.