Rev. Mary McCue
Zeno of Verona, whose feast day we celebrate today, was a monastic, an educator, a renowned baptizer and a reformer.
He was probably born in the year 300, and probably died about 371 or 380. (Records were not that good back then.) Zeno received a classical education for his time, and first turned his talents into helping children with their schoolwork and throughout his career, found time to continue helping in that way.
Zeno spent years as a monastic before being called to be Bishop of Verona. As a bishop, he baptized many, formed a convent for women, and reformed Agape feast practices. He is also remembered for forbidding groans and wailing at funeral masses.
Though he was persecuted for his beliefs during the reigns of Constantine II and Julian the Apostate, he enjoyed some political support. Emperor Charlemagne and his son Pepin, King of Italy, endowed a basilica he built –widely believed to be first basilica in Christendom.
Today, he is remembered in the Church of San Zeno, built in the twelfth century and refurbished in the thirteenth and early fifteenth centuries. His symbol is a fish, perhaps because he was an avid fisherman throughout his life, who was said to have performed miracles while he was fishing. More likely, the fish is his symbol because of his achievements in baptizing many people.
The Rev. Charles Hoffacker is a retired priest of the Diocese of Washington