Leodegar of Autun, St.

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Bishop and martyr, also known as Léger; b. c. 616;d. forest of Sarcing, near Arras, France, Oct. 2, 678. Descended from a noble Frankish family, he was archdeacon at Poitiers under his uncle Didon (d. 673) and then abbot of saint-maixent for at least six years until he was called to the court of Neustria by bathildis, regent there since 657. Through the queen's influence he became c. 663 bishop of autun, an important Burgundian see struggling to maintain its autonomy. He had the cathedral restored, brought about the translation of the relics of St. Symphorian (second century), and convened a synod. The kingdom, however, was thrown into chaos when Chlotar III (d. 673) came of age and Bathildis retired to the convent of chelles, leaving power to Ebroinus (d.681), the mayor of the palace. Neustria and Burgundy thus had the same king but each remained a separate kingdom. When Ebroinus attempted to assert universal authority, the Burgundian nobles revolted, led by Leodegar. In March (or May) of 673, young Chlotar died, and Ebroinus tried to impose Theodoric III (d. c. 691) as king, but the nobles had him shorn and the mayor was exiled to luxeuil. Childeric II (d. 675), king of Austrasia since 662, became the sole monarch for the three kingdoms. Accused of plotting against the king, Leodegar also was exiled to Luxeuil, but upon the assassination of Childeric in the fall of 675 and the return of Theodoric, both Leodegar and Ebroinus were liberated. Leodegar returned to Autun, where Hermanarius restored to him his usurped see, and Ebroinus became more active than ever. Ignoring Wulfoad, the mayor of the palace, he proclaimed Clovis III king in Austrasia and assumed power in his name. At Crécyen-Ponthieu he captured King Theodoric, who had been thought dead, and laid siege to Autun. Fasting, alms, and processions were of no avail, and at length, Leodegar gave himself up to prevent a sack of the city. Under the false indictment of having had a hand in the assassination of Childeric, Leodegar was blinded and his tongue was cut out. In September of 678 he appeared at the royal palace before a synod that degraded him; he was then dragged off to the forest of Sarcing, where he was beheaded.

Desiderius, bishop of Chalons, and Waimer, count of Champagne, Leodegar's enemies, were condemned by the Synod of Mâlay even before his death, and Ebroinus was assassinated in the spring of 681. Nothing now stood in the way of a rehabilitation, and an assembly of bishops proclaimed Leodegar a martyr. His remains were translated c. 682 to Saint-Maixent by Abbot Audulf (d. 682), and a basilica was erected under his patronage near the abbot's house. During the norman invasions the relics were transferred from one place to another, but a part of them was returned c. 930. Many churches in France and Belgium bear his name, and he is especially honored in the Dioceses of Autun and Poitiers. He is invoked for diseases of the eyes, and he is depicted in art as a bishop holding in one hand an auger, the instrument used in his blinding.

Feast: Oct. 2.

Bibliography: Patrologia Latina, 217 v. (Paris 187890) 96:373376. Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum (Berlin 1826) 5:249362. Acta Sanctorum Oct. 1:355463. camerlinck, St. Léger (Paris 1910). h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie 15 v. (Paris 190753) 8.2:246093. j. l. baudot and l. chaussin, Vies des saints et des bienheureux selon l'ordre du calendrier avec l'historique des fêtes 12 v. (Paris 193556) 10:3943. l. rÉau, Iconographie de l'art chrétien, 6 v. (Paris 195559) 2:796797. a. mussat, Le Style gothique de l'Ouest de la France (Paris 1963) 370371 and plate ivii/a. d'arco silvio avalle, Monumenti prefranciani. Il Sermone di Valenciennes e il Sant Lethgier, ed. r. rosani (Turin 1967). Bibliotheca hagiographica latina antiquae et mediae aetatis, 2 v. (Brussels 18981901) 48504856. a. m. zimmermann, Kalendarium Benedictinum: Die Heiligen und Seligen des Benediktinerorderns und seiner Zweige, 4 v. (Metten 193338) 3:125129. r. du moulin-eckart, Leudegar, Bischof von Autun (Breslau 1890).

[j. cambell]