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May 25

St Zenobius of Florence - May 25

Saint Zenobius of Florence


(337 – 417)

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Saint Zenobius of Florence

Saint’s Life Story

His Early Life 

 Zenobius was born in Florence, Italy in 337.  He was educated by noble pagan parents. Zenobius was influenced by Bishop of Florence, Theodore, who baptized him privately.  His parents took so great offence at his baptism. They raised a violent storm both against their son and the Bishop, pretending that the private baptism was an injury done to their paternal authority. Zenobius answered both for himself and the bishop with so much meekness and constancy, and, in justifying his own conduct, interwove so rational an account of our holy faith, as to satisfy his parents. In fact, Zenobius was able to win his parents over to convert to Christinaity.


In order to devote himself to God in the most perfect manner, and to qualify himself to impart the blessing of divine faith to his countrymen, Zenobius entered himself among the clergy. Because of his zealous desire to serve Christ in His church, Zenobius was ordained deacon. Rapidly , he rose to the position of  archdeacon.  In this position, Zenobius preached with so great fruit, and such reputation, that he became known to Saint Ambrose of Milan. He was also called to Rome by Pope Saint Damasus I, who sent him to Constantinople as papal legate in connection with ongoing Arian heresy problems.

Bishop of Florence

After the death of Pope Saint Damasus, Zenobius returned to Florence, where he resumed his apostolic labors.  After the death of the bishop of that see, Zenobius, to the great joy of the people, was appointed Bishop of Florence to succeed him. Through his admirable humility, modesty, abstinence, and charity, Zenobius proved himself a true successor. He evangelized Florence and its outskirts completely and combated Arianism. The words of his teaching were confirmed by miracles. The prayers and work of Zenobius was blessed with great fruit as many people converted to the faith.


Zenobius never stopped earnestly commending to Christ the souls that were entrusted to his care, or feeding them with the word of God, who confirmed his doctrine by extraordinary miracles. Zenobius is said to have resurrected several dead people. A column was erected in 1384 in Florence to commemorate a miracle, which had taken place, almost one thousand years earlier, in 429, when the saint’s body was being transferred from the church of San Lorenzo to Santa Reparata, the city’s old cathedral. The event took place in the dead of winter and, as his body was being carried past an elm, the tree is believed to have miraculously burst into leaf. ​There is a metal branch of an elm tree attached to the column in memory of the miracle.

St Zenobius - The Column of St Zenobius in Florence Italy - May 25
The Column of St Zenobius in Florence, Italy 

A legend states that a child was once run over by a cart while playing. His mother, a widow, wailed as she brought the dead child to Zenobius’ deacon. By means of a prayer, Zenobius revived the child and restored him to his mother.


His Death

On May 25, 417, Zenobius died in Florence, Italy. His body was first buried in the Basilica di San Lorenzo di Firenze (consecrated by Saint Ambrose in 393), and was later translated to the church of Santa Maria del Fiore.

In Art

Zenobius is often depicted with a dead child or man in his arms, or a flowering elm, both in reference to his miracles.

Sandro Botticelli depicted the life and work of Saint Zenobius in four paintings. In the first scene, Zenobius is shown twice: he rejects the bride that his parents intended him to take in marriage and walks thoughtfully away. The other episodes show the baptism of the young Zenobius and his mother, and on the right his ordination as bishop.

Born:                   337 in Florence, Italy

Died:                   May 25, 417 in Florence, Italy

Beatified:           Pre-Congregation

Canonized:        Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:          May 25

Patron Saint:     Against Headaches; Florence, Italy



Saint Zenobius of Florence’s admirable humility, modesty, abstinence, and charity approved himself as a true successor to the Apostles. The prayers and work of Saint Zenobius was blessed with great fruit as many people converted to the faith. The words of his teaching were confirmed by extraordinary miracles, including several instances of the restoration of the dead to life.  

What “miracles” can you do for this around you? Your kind presence and generous acts may be a “miraculous” sign of God for others that make their day and maybe even turn their lives around to Christ. 


Saint Zenobius of Florence, you were no stranger to the difficulties of our task here on Earth – feeding those around us with the Word of God and food for the poor in spirit. May you pray for us to have the strength and zeal to follow your example as Bishop of Florence in helping those in spiritual and physical need.

Saint Zenobius of Florence, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links – Rev. Alban Butler Volume X: October. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. October 20 St. Zenobius, Bishop of Florence, Confessor

Catholic Online – St. Zenobius

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Zenobius of Florence

CatholicSaints.Info – Saints of the Day – Zenobius of Florence by Katherine I Rabenstein

Christian Iconography – Saint Zenobius: The Iconography

New Advent – Parker, A. (1911). St. Oswald. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

The National Gallery – The Three Miracles of Saint Zenobius by Sandro Botticelli

Walks in Rome  – Florence: ​Column of St Zenobius

Wikipedia – Zenobius of Florence

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