27 Feb Saint Leander of Seville, Bishop
Today is the feast day of Saint Leander of Seville. Ora pro nobis.
Saint Leander was born at Carthagena in Spain about 534, of a Roman family established in that city. He was the eldest of five brothers, several of whom are numbered among the Saints. Some historians claim that his father Severian was duke or governor of Carthage, but St. Isidore simply states that he was a citizen of that city. The family emigrated from Carthagena about 554 and went to Seville. The eminent worth of the children of Severian would seem to indicate that they were reared in distinguished surroundings. Severian had three sons, Leander Isidore, and Fulgentius and one daughter, Florentina. St. Leander and St. Isidore both became bishops of Seville; St. Fulgentius, Bishop of Carthagena, and St. Florentina, a nun, who directed forty convents and one thousand nuns. It has been also believed, but wrongly, that Theodosia, another daughter of Severian, became the wife of the Visigothic king, Leovigild.
He entered into a monastery very young, where he lived many years and attained to an eminent degree of virtue and sacred learning. Leander became at first a Benedictine monk, and then in 579 Bishop of Seville.
In endeavoring to save his country from Arianism, Leander showed himself an orthodox Christian and a far-sighted patriot. Exiled by Leovigild, he withdrew to Byzantium from 579 to 582. It is possible, but not proved, that he sought to rouse the Emperor Tiberius to take up arms against the Arian king: in any case the attempt was without result. He profited, however, by his stay at Byzantium to compose important works against Arianism, and there became acquainted with the future Gregory the Great, then legate of Pelagius II at the Byzantine court. A close friensdship thenceforth united the two men, and the correspondence of St. Gregory with St. Leander remains one of the latter’s greatest titles to honour. It is not known exactly when Leander returned from exile. Leovigild put to death his son Hermenegild in 585, and himself died in 589.
St. Leander played a central role at two councils, the Council of Seville and the Third Council of Toledo, where Visigothic Spain abjured Arianism in all its forms. He also wrote an influential Rule for his sister with instructions on prayer and renunciation of the world. He reformed the liturgy in Spain, adding the Nicene Creed to the Mass in order to make an express profession of the Faith against Arianism. Later, this practice passed to other Catholic countries. He died in 596.
Image: Leander of Seville (5)
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff