Spirituality for Today – April 2012 – Volume 16, Issue 9

Saint of the Month
St. Zeno, April, 12

An image of Saint ZenoSaint Zeno

Most scholars agree that Zeno was born in Africa about the year 300. He received a Latin education and was made Bishop of Verona in 362. Little else is known about his life, but many of his sermons survive.

Bishop Zeno fervently fought Arianism, a school of thought which held that Jesus was not fully God but was created by God the Father. Even after Arianism was condemned at the Council of Nicaea in 325, it continued to have many supporters.

Arianism was especially strong in Zeno's neighboring diocese of Milan, where an Arian bishop held office from 354 to 374. It is said that Zeno triumphed in fighting the Arians in Verona, and it is widely believed that he was able to successfully convert and baptize a large number of pagans.

When his congregation grew, Zeno built a larger church, financing it through contributions of some wealthy citizens. Zeno never tired of preaching charity, urging his parishioners to reach out and support others. He was so convincing in his pleas, it is said that none of his countrymen ever had to ask for help because it was always freely offered by the Christians of Verona.

In his sermons, Zeno praised his flock for their kindness and generosity, assuming them that they would find their reward in heaven, "for who can be richer than a man to whom God is to acknowledge himself debtor?" Zeno asked. Personally, Zeno chose to live in poverty, setting a vivid example for both Christians and others.

Some scholars say that Zeno was persecuted and died a martyr on April 12, 371. But St. Ambrose, one of Zeno's contemporaries, wrote that he died a "happy death."

O Charity!
How tender, how rich, how powerful art thou!
He who possesseth not tee, hath nothing.
Thou couldst change God into man.
Thou hast overcome death,
by teaching a god to die,
teach me to love all those who cross my path,
for their good, my soul's good, and for the love of Jesus.

From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives