Saint Ildephonsus, also characterized as Ildefonsus or Ildephonse insome literature, was born in Toledo around 607. His gothic name wasHildefuns and his parents were a noble part of the Visigothic kingdom.
His uncle was Saint Eugenius, An Archbishop at Toledo at that time.
Ildephonsus grew up in a challenging time characterized by wars anddiseases. That however did not deter the devout young man from focusingon his religion and spirituality.
Saint Ildephonsus was trained and taught by his uncle Eugenius at thestart of his religious journey.
After a while, Ildephonsus made it known that he was interested injoining the monastery. His father disagreed but nothing could convinceIldephonsus otherwise.
He joined the Agali Monastery and became a monk. While serving in themonastery, he established a monastery for nuns.
His first formal religious career began at approximately 632 when he wasordained deacon by Bishop Eladius. By the year 650, Saint Ildephonsuswas elected Abbot of the Abbey where he spent his early life.
While serving as Abbot, his place of power gave him a ticket to attendsynods at the 8th and 9th councils of Toledo at the Iberian church. Thesynods took place around 653 and 655.
After his Uncle passed away in 657, Saint Ildephonsus was consideredeligible to fill the empty seat and was thus elected as successor. Hewas encouraged by King Reccesvinth to accept the post and he becameArchbishop of Toledo, governing over all the churches.
Dedication and Devotion
In the history of Saint Ildephonsus’ biography, it is mentioned that hehad spiritual connections to saints, especially the Virgin Mary.
Archbishop Cixila, the successor of Saint Ildephonsus wrote about aninstance where Saint Ildephonsus had an encounter with Saint Leocadia.He wrote that as Ildephonsus was praying in the presence of SaintLeocadia’s relics, She appeared to him and thanked him for thecommitment he showed to the Virgin Mary.
It was also written in history that he had an experience with theBlessed Virgin on the 18th of December, Circa 665. She appeared to himand presented him with a robe as a reward for his devotion.
It is reported that as Saint Ildephonsus and the brethren sang the HailMary hymns, the Church was lit up with a bright light causing most ofthe congregation to flee with fear. Ildephonsus and the few members anddeacons left in the church suddenly saw the Blessed Mother come downfrom the heavens upon the bishop’s chair.
She applauded his devotion and rewarded him with a chasuble. Sheinjuncted him to only wear the robe during the Marian festival. She thenbid him goodbye and disappeared.
In awe of the vision, the authorities promoted Saint Ildephonsus to theMetropolitan see, thereby awarding him with power over the IberianPeninsula.
Saint Ildephonsus and his writings are highly revered in Spain. He was aprolific writer and was named as one of the first people to address theMother of Jesus as ‘The Virgin’ as opposed to ‘Our Lady’.
His writings are considered monumental and one of the important worksDe Perpetua virginitate Mariae contra tres infideles which became anextremely important part of religion in Spain. Most of his works spokeon Marian teachings.
It is speculated that Saint Ildephonsus probably wrote the VisigothicMass of Ascension. He was also a supporter of the Nicene Creed andconsidered the creed as sufficientem scientiam salutarem meaningsufficient knowledge for salvation.
His writings were extensive and explained by many future writers.Unfortunately, only a few of his writings survived till recent times.
Death and Canonization
Saint Ildephonsus spent 9 years serving the Church. He died in office onthe 23rd of January 667 after living a life of piety and sanctity.
He was buried in the city’s Basilica in the Church of Santa Leocadia.
Saint Ildephonsus’ vision of the Virgin was considered so sacred thateven when the Toledo Basilica was transformed into a Mosque, the partwhere the vision occurred was kept sacred. Many pilgrims came from farand wide to pray to the stone in which The Virgin reportedly stepped onduring the vision.
Saint Ildephonsus was canonized Pre-Congregation and is celebrated everyyear on the day of his death, 23 January.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Ildephonsus
- Did you know that Saint Ildephonsus is considered the patron saint
- Did you know that there is more information about Saint Ildephonsus’
writing than of his personal life?
- Did you know that Saint Ildephonsus inaugurated a feast to celebrate
the vision he had of Mary? The feast was called the feast of the
Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is still honored by
some people on the 18th of December.
- Did you know that the Chasuble Virgin Mary bequeathed unto Saint
Ildephonsus was said to be from Jesus’ treasury?
- Did you know that Saint Ildephonsus is also called Alfonso by some?
Prayer of St. Ildephonsus
Virgin Mary, hear my prayer:through the Holy Spirityou became the Mother of Jesus;from the Holy Spirit may I too have Jesus.Through the Holy Spirit your flesh conceived Jesus;through the same Spirit may my soul receive Jesus.Through the Holy Spirit you were able to know Jesus,to possess Jesus,and to bring him into the world.Through the Holy Spirit may I too come to know your Jesus.Imbued with the Spirit,Mary, you could say:“I am the handmaid of the Lord,be it done unto me according to your word”;in the Holy Spirit,lowly as I am,let me proclaim the great truths about Jesus.In the Spirit, you now adore Jesus as Lordand look on Him as Son;in the same spirit,Mary, let me love your Jesus.