St. Leander of Seville
From a Monk to a Bishop
St. Leander of Seville was born around the year 534 in Cartagena, Spain. He was the son of Severianus and Theodora, who belonged to a noble family of Hispano-Roman descent in Carthago, Nova. His family was known for their piety and devotion to the faith.
Around the year 554, Leander’s family moved to Seville. As a young man, Leander entered a Benedictine monastery in Seville where he spent three years in prayer and study. His tranquil life as a monk ended when he was made Bishop of Seville around 579.
Defending the Faith Against Arianism
Bishop Leander did not waste any time. He established a school which became renowned as a center of orthodoxy and learning. During his time, the heresy of Arianism was spreading. This heresy believed that Jesus was not like God the Father, but that He was just a creature made in time. Thus, Arianism denied the divinity of Christ. As the Bishop of Seville, Leander also became a great defender of the faith against Arianism.
Bishop Leander had also befriended Princess Ingunthis. He also assisted her in her attempts to have her husband convert to Christianity. Princess Ingunthis’ husband was the son of Leovigild, the Arian King of the Visigoths. Upon learning of his son’s conversion to the faith, Leovigild was enraged. He sent Bishop Leander into exile. He resided in Byzantium from 579 to 582.
Exiled and Returned
While he was in exile, Bishop Leander wrote many important manuscripts against Arianism. He also met Gregory, who soon became Pope Gregory the Great. They developed a close friendship and Leander encouraged Gregory to write the Moralia, a renowned commentary on the Book of Job. For many years, Leander and Gregory continued to correspond with each other in such endeavors.
In 585, Leovigild had his own son, Hermenegild, executed. Four years later, Leovigild died. It was under the reign of King Reccared that Bishop Leander was able to return to Seville. He continued his work of promoting the true faith and fighting against the Arian heresy. He and the new king worked hand in hand to restore orthodoxy and moral uprightness in Seville.
Bishop Leander also presided over the third local Council of Toledo in 589 where many moral changes were brought about. In the same Council, the consubstantiality of the three Divine Persons of the Holy Trinity was decreed. Through Bishop Leander’s wisdom and enduring defense of the faith, the Suevi and the Visigoths were led back to the Church. He also wrote an influential Rule for nuns.
Bishop Leander died around the year 600. He was succeeded as Bishop of Seville by his brother, Isidore, who also was later canonized. His feast day is February 27.
Five Interesting Facts About St. Leander of Seville
- St. Leander of Seville was responsible for introducing the Nicene Creed at Mass. He ordered that the Creed be recited by all Catholics at Mass each Sunday as a way to reinforce the Catholic Faith. This became a universal custom and is still part of the Sunday Mass up to the present day.
- St. Leander of Seville’s siblings, Isidore of Seville, Fulgentius of Ecija, and Florentina of Cartagena were all canonized saints like him.
- St. Leander of Seville is remembered as a gifted author. Only two of his writings survive: a homily “On the Triumph of the Church” delivered during the Council of Toledo and a monastic rule written for his sister, Florentina.
- St. Leander of Seville is honored as a Doctor of the Faith by the Church in Spain.
- St. Leander of Seville was visited by frequent ailments, particularly the gout.
Prayer to St. Leander of Seville
Lord God, who graciously imbued blessed Leander with heavenly doctrine,grant, through his intercession,that we may keep that same teaching faithfullyand express it in what we do.Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,one God, for ever and ever. Amen.