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The Catholic Defender: Saint Leander of Seville Doctor of the Church

Leander was born to Roman parents somewhere around the year 534 in Carthage. When Leander was a young man, his family moved to Seville. Leander became a Benedictine monk and in 579 was made Bishop of Seville. He also established a school, which became known as a center of learning and orthodoxy. Leander became a great defender of the faith against Arianism, which was a heresy that denied the Divinity of Christ. During this time he also befriended Princess Ingunthis and assisted her in her attempts to convert her husband to Christianity.

Her husband was the son of Leovigild, the Arian King of the Visigoths, and Leovigild was infuriated by his son’s conversion.

The next time you recite the Nicene Creed at Mass, think of today’s saint. For it was Leander of Seville who, as bishop, introduced the practice in the sixth century. He saw it as a way to help reinforce the faith of his people and as an antidote against the heresy of Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ. By the end of his life, Leander had helped Christianity flourish in Spain at a time of political and religious upheaval.

Leander’s own family were staunch Christians: his brothers Isidore and Fulgentius were named bishops, and their sister Florentina became an abbess. Leander entered a monastery as a young man and spent three years in prayer and study. At the end of that tranquil period he was made a bishop. For the rest of his life he worked strenuously to fight against heresy. The death of the anti-Christian king in 586 helped Leander’s cause. He and the new king worked hand in hand to restore orthodoxy and a renewed sense of morality. Leander succeeded in persuading many Arian bishops to change their loyalties.

He was instrumental in converting the two sons Hermenegild and Reccared of the Arian Visigothic King Leovigild. This action earned him the kings's wrath and exile to Constantinople, where he met and became close friends of the Papal Legate, the future Pope Gregory the Great.

Archbishop Isidore strengthened religious discipline throughout his see. Archbishop Isidore also used resources of education to counteract increasingly influential Gothic barbarism throughout his episcopal jurisdiction. His quickening spirit animated the educational movement centered on Seville.

St. Leander began his life work of propagating Christian orthodoxy against the Arians in Spain. The third local Council of Toledo (over which he presided in 589) decreed the consubstantiality of the three Persons of the Trinity and brought about moral reforms.

St. Isidore of Seville died on April 4 of the year 636. Later named a Doctor of the Church, he was more recently proposed as a patron saint of Internet users, because of his determination to use the world's accumulated knowledge for the service of God's glory.

He was generous to other poor people, often giving them what food he had and settling for their scraps. Miracles were attributed to his prayer—on one occasion, he showed up late to a gathering with a small crowd of beggars. The hosts had saved enough food for him, but could not feed the others.

His brother (and successor as bishop) was the encyclopedist St. Isidore of Seville.

Leander died around 600. In Spain, he is honored as a Doctor of the Church.

The saintly bishop also composed an influential Rule for nuns and was the first to introduce the Nicene Creed at Mass. Worn out by his many activities in the cause of Christ, Leander died around 600 and was succeeded in the See of Seville by his brother Isidore. The Spanish Church honors Leander as the Doctor of the Faith.

Saint Leander died on March 13, 600, and is buried with his brother Isidore in the cathedral of Seville, Spain.

Leander is remembered as a gifted author, but only two of his writings survive: a homily “On the Triumph of the Church” and a monastic rule written for his sister, Florentina.

St. Isidore wrote this of his saintly brother: “This man of suave eloquence and eminent talent shone as brightly by his virtues as by his doctrine. By his faith and zeal the Gothic people have been converted from Aryanism to the Catholic faith.”

“There is one Christ the Lord and His Church, a holy possession, is throughout the world. He is the Head and the Church is the body.”—Saint Leander of Seville

Lord God, who graciously imbued blessed Leander with heavenly doctrine, grant, through his intercession, that we may keep that same teaching faithfully and 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.


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