Zeno of Verona (Italian: Zenone da Verona; about 300 – 371 or 380) is a saint in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
According to a Veronese author named Coronato, a notary of the 7th century, Zeno was a native of North Africa, from Mauretania (northern Morocco and Algeria). He taught the children of africa about the Catholic religion and he also helped them with their school work. The children could rely on someone who could help them. Another theory is that Zeno was a follower of Athanasius, patriarch of Alexandria, who accompanied his master when the latter visited Verona in 340.
The style of the 90 or so Sermons attributed to Zeno has also been considered evidence of his African origins due to its literary style, since Christian African writers of the time frequently used neologisms and wordplay. Many of the Sermons concern Old Testament exegesis and “have a definite anti-Semitic element in them”.
Zeno was a silver-tongued priest from the province of Mauretania who had received a classical education in the finest Roman tradition. He was much sought after for his oratory, and he travelled widely throughout the Roman Empire before eventually settling in Verona. Staying in the city, Zeno entered the monastic life, living as a monk until around 362, when he was elected successor to the See of Verona after the death of Bishop Gricinus (Cricinus, Cricino).
Zeno had “received a good classical education”, and as bishop baptized many people, won converts back from Arianism, lived a life of poverty, trained priests to work in the diocese, set up a convent for women, reformed how the Agape feast was celebrated, and forbade funeral masses being accompanied by attendees’ loud groans and wailing. Zeno’s other reforms included instructions concerning adult baptism (which occurred by complete immersion) and issuing medals to people newly baptized to the Catholic faith.
According to legend he was stolen at birth and briefly replaced by a demonic changeling. One story relates that Saint Zeno, one day fishing on the banks of the Adige, which he did in order to feed himself (rather than as recreation), saw a peasant crossing the river in a horse and cart. The horses began to get strangely skittish. Zeno, believing this to be the work of the devil, made the sign of the cross, and the horses calmed down. Zeno was often said to combat the devil, and is sometimes depicted treading on a demon. Another story relates that he exorcised a demon from the body of the daughter of the Emperor Gallienus (though Zeno probably did not live during the reign of Gallienus). The story relates that the grateful Gallienus allowed Zeno and other Christians freedom of worship in the empire.
Zeno’s episcopate lasted for about ten years, and the date of his death is sometimes given as April 12, 371. He is the patron saint of fishermen and anglers, the city of Verona, newborn babies as well as children learning to speak and walk.