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Leander of Seville, St.


Bishop and organizer of the Spanish Church; b. probably Cartagena, Spain; d. Seville, c. 600. Leander (Leandro) was the older brother of three other saints, florentina; fulgentius, later bishop of Écija; and isidore, whose education he personally supervised. He became a monk and was chosen (c. 577) to be archbishop of Seville. For 20 years he was the most important ecclesiastic in Spain. He persuaded the Arian King Leovigild's two sons, hermenegild (c. 579) and Reccared (587), to embrace the Catholic faith. In 589 he presided over the Third Council of toledo, at which the Visigoths officially embraced Catholicism. Leovigild had forced Leander to leave Spain (57980) because of the part he had played in the conversion of Hermenegild, but whether Leander approved of Hermenegild's rebellion against his father is uncertain. He spent his years of exile at Constantinople, where he met the future pontiff, gregory i the great, and urged him to write his Moralia, or commentary on Job. The two corresponded in later years, and Gregory sent the pallium to Leander, the first bishop in Spain to receive this privilege.

Only two of Leander's writings are extant: the sermon he preached at the Third Council of Toledo, in which he expressed the joy of all at the end of religious disunity in the country, and De institutione virginum, written at the request of his sister Florentina. The latter is concerned with the virtues that nuns should practice and the dangers they should avoid. It is one of the gems of medieval ascetical literature.

Feast: Feb. 27.

Bibliography: leander of seville, De institutione virginum, ed. a. c. vega (Escorial 1948). u. domÍnguez, Leandro de Sevilla y la lucha contra el arrianismo (Madrid 1981). l. navarra, Leandro di Siviglia: profilo storico-letterario (L'Aquila 1987). Leandri Hispalensis episcopi, De institutione virginum et contemptu mund: léxico latino-español, ed. m. martÍnez pastor et al. (Hildesheim 1998). b. altaner, Patrology (Span. ed.) appendix 1415. a. c. vega, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 195765) 6:847848. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, 4 v. (New York 1956) 1:432433.

[s. j. mckenna]

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