Leidradus of Lyons

views updated


Archbishop of Lyons; b. in the ancient Province of Noricum; d. Soissons, France, Dec. 28, 817. A cleric in Salzburg c. 790, Leidradus through his friend alcuin received an invitation to charlemagne's court, where he was Alcuin's favorite disciple. In 797 or 798 he succeeded Ado as archbishop of Lyons. His consecration was delayed until 799 because in 798 Charlemagne sent him with theodulf of orlÉans as missi dominici to Narbonnaise Gaul, a commission immortalized by Theodulf's charming poem, Contra judices, where he praises Leidradus's rare ability, exceptional good sense, and eminent virtue. An important contribution of Leidradus's episcopate, his struggle against adoptionism, took him to Spain in 798, where he attended the Council of Urgel in 799. One source, based on Jerome de la Higuera's report of c. 810, which states that he had the happiness of converting elipandus of toledo and Felix of Urgel, is probably erroneous. Leidradus's work in Lyons rescued that see from the sad conditions resulting from the Muslim occupation during the 731734 period and subsequent confiscations by charles martel in 737 (see carolingians).

Leidradus's achievements were solid, and he recounts them in a letter to Charlemagne (ed. H. Leclerq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie 10:235237, with a Fr. tr.). He described them because he feared death might interrupt his program, which he wished Charlemagne to carry out. He had reformed the chant, using as a model the plainsong of Metz taught by a cleric from that see (see chrodegang of metz), and his own lectors and chanters were so well trained that they could teach others. He promoted the transcription of numerous manuscripts, but he was especially the restorer of churches and monasteries: St. John the Baptist (the cathedral), St. Nizier, St. Mary, St. Eulalia, and the convent of St. George, Île-Barthe, a monastery on an island in the Saöne. In imitation of Bishop Chrodegang, he organized his clergy into a college of canons, priests, and deacons, whom he attached to the Baptistery of St. Stephen, designating them as fratres sancti Stephani. The episcopal family thus produced continued until the twelfth century, and a school for training young clerics was attached to it. Someone, perhaps Leidradus himself, added to this letter a summary account of each church and monastery according to the number of its inhabitants and their social rank; there are 727 colonicas (cultivated estates) and 33 absas (vacant ones). Perhaps the list, specific and detailed, was what Charlemagne expected, and the letter may have been a clever move to make him favorable to the attached report because of his esteem for Leidradus. Besides the letter to Charlemagne, Leidradus wrote a theological treatise for the emperor entitled Liber de sacramento baptismi (ed. E. Dümmler, Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Epistolae 4:539540) and a short treatise on the accompanying ceremony of renouncing the devil (ibid. 540541). A letter of consolation to his sister (ibid. 544545) is also preserved. After the death of Charlemagne, the bishop retired to the monastery of Saint-Médard at Soissons, where he died.

Bibliography: Patrologia latina, 217 v. (Paris 18781890) 99:853886. Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Epistolae 4:539546. j. pourrat, L'Antique école de Leidrade (Lyons 1899); L'Université catholique 31 (Lyons 1899): 161182. m. manitius, Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters 3 v. (Munich 191131) 1:249, 380, 381, 386390, 392, 394, 538, 541. l. duchesne, Fastes épiscopaux de l'ancienne Gaule, 3 v. (Paris 190715) 2:171172. É. amann, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, 15 v. (Paris 190350) 9.1:195196. h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, 15 v. (Paris 190753) 10.1:232244. b. walcher, Lexicon für Theologie und Kirche, 10 v. (Freiburg 1957) 6:926.

[c. m. aherne]