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Ildefonsus of Toledo, St.


Bishop and writer; b. probably in Toledo, Spain, c. 610; d. Toledo, 667. Ildefonsus entered the monastery of Agalia near Toledo, became its abbot, and in 657 was chosen archbishop of Toledo. Nothing is known about his government of the archdiocese, and no national councils were held during his tenure; but he did play a part in the development of the mozarabic rite. Two of his letters and four of his writings are extant: De viris illustribus contains brief biographies of 14 men, all of whom had lived in Spain except gregory the great; De cognitione baptismi contains interesting information about the administration of Baptism in Visigothic Spain; De progressu spiritualis deserti traces the road by which the neophytes must travel in order to reach heaven; and his De virginitate sanctae Mariae, though neither original nor profound, is an excellent summary of what jerome and earlier theologians had written. It deepened the devotion of the Spanish people, writers, and artists to the Blessed Virgin. A legend in which Mary is said to have placed a chasuble over Ildefonsus' shoulders was depicted by Spanish artists of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Feast: Jan. 23.

Bibliography: a. braegelmann, The Life and Writings of St. Ildefonsus (Washington 1942). m. schapiro, The Parma Ildefonsus: A Romanesque Illuminated Manuscript from Cluny (New York 1964). e. fernÁndez-prieto domÍnguez, Actas de visitas reales y otras realizadas por acontecimientos extraordinarios a los cuerpos santos de San Ildefonso y San Atilano (Zamora, Spain 1973). j. m. hormaeche basauri, La pastoral de la iniciación cristiana en la España visigoda: estudio sobre el De cognitione baptismi de San Ildefonso de Toledo (Toledo 1983). j. f. rivera recio, San Ildefonso de Toledo: biografia, época y posteridad (Madrid 1985). o. engels, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 5:622. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater, 4 v. (New York 1956) 1:155156.

[s. j. mckenna]

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