Saint of the day:
Patron Saint of millers, invoked against blindness, eye disease, eye problems, sore eyes
The Story of St. Leodegar
Benedictine bishop and martyr. He was educated at Poitiers, France, and in 653 became abbot of St. Maxentius. When King Clovis II died, Leodegarius assisted the regent, Queen Bathildes, and became bishop of Autun in 659. Erchinoald, the mayor of the royal palace, had Leodegarius imprisoned, blinded, and murdered. Leodegarius is revered in France as St. Leger.
Today, October 2, we celebrate the feast of Saint Leger (also known as Saint Leodegar, 615-679), bishop of Autun (France), advisor to Regent Saint Bathildis, and martyr of the Church. Saint Leger is remembered for his conviction in the faith, his commitment to reform, and his unwavering proclamation of the Good News of Christ-- activites that eventually earned him the crown of Martyrdom. Leger was born of Franco-German nobility, son of Sigrada (who later became a nun). Due to his rank and station, he was raised at the court of King Clotaire II, and when old enough, moved from Paris to Poitiers to be instructed in the ways of the faith by his uncle, Bishop Desiderius of Poitiers. Following completion of his studies, and his ordination, Saint Leger was elevated to archdeacon by his uncle, and in 651, assumed the abbotship of Saint Maxentius Abbey in Poitou. There he enacted great reform, and introduced the Rule of Saint Benedict.
At this time in history, there was great conflict in what is modern-day Austria, and Saint Leger was summoned to the aid of Queen Regent Saint Bathildis. He assisted her and helped her govern following the death of King Clovis II in 656, and was eventually named Bishop of Autun in 663. As bishop, he continued his steady and unwavering commitment to reform, reconciling factions that had taken political sides and drifted from the unified See. He further instructed clergy, reforming their unvirtuous ways, and demonstrated great charity for the poor, establishing numerous social aid agencies throughout the region. He further instructed the clergy in the importance of the sacraments, especially baptism, which had grown lax among the faithful.
In 675, Saint Leger was arrested at Autun for speaking out against the immoral marriage of the king to his first cousin, holding the Church position on marriage and denouncing the wicked ways of the royal court. He was eventually banished to Luxeuil, and following several changes in government, was tortured and killed. Saint Leger was first blinded, his lips cut off, and his tongue pulled out. Imprisoned and disfigured, after two years, Saint Leger was summoned to court, deposed, and executed by beheading at Sarcing.
In 782, his relics were translated from the site of his death Sarcing (Artois) to the site of the Abbey of Saint Maxentius, where he had first served as Abbot. Later they were removed to Rennes and then to Ebreuil, which took the name of Saint-Léger in his honor. Some relics are still kept in the cathedral of Autun and the Grand Séminaire of Soissons, where they are venerated today. A plaque at the church reads:
St. Leodegar 616-678,
Bishop of Autun.
Burgundian statesman and peacemaker
Just judge and friend of the poor.
A victim of intrigue
blinded and murdered for his faith.
While we know very little about the life of Saint Leger, what we do know is that he was a man of faith and conviction, working steadily toward reform, and using his position and influence to bring those in his jurisdiction to Christ. Saint Leger did his best to avoid the political controversies of the times, remaining relatively neutral, and supporting the Church, the Holy See, and enacting great reforms. A victim of the political motivations of others, this holy man was executed for upholding and proclaiming the Word of God. We pray today for his courage and steadfastness, in light of the many distractions we encounter, and criticisms we endure for our faith. Saint Leger, pray for us!
Cathedral of Saint Lazarus of Autun