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Leucius of Brindisi

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Saint Leucius of Brindisi
Sleuciusofbrindisi.jpg
Painting of St. Leucius in the Cathedral of Benevento, by Oronzo Tiso
Martyr and Bishop of Brindisi
Born Early 2nd Century, Location Unknown, believed to be Eastern Europe
Died 180
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church
Canonized pre-congregation
Major shrine Benevento
Feast 11 January (Roman Catholic Church);

20 June (Eastern Orthodox Church)

Attributes Pastoral Staff
Patronage Atessa, Brindisi

Saint Leucius was initially a missionary from Alexandria, Egypt[1], who later founded the diocese of Brindisi, as the first Bishop in 165. It is believed that he later suffered martyrdom in 180.

Early Life

Not much is know of Leucius' early life, though it is believed that he was born in Eastern Europe, to Eudecius and Euphrodisia and was given the name of Eupressius at birth.[2] What is known, is that the young Eupressius was educated and spent the formative years of his existence in Alexandria, Egypt. Following the death of his mother he entered monastic life. A heavenly vision, during the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin, would change his name from Eupressius to Leucius. Having already been ordained bishop, Leucius wanted to undertake a missionary apostolate in Brindisi, to liberate the pagans from misconceptions of Christianity. Leucius left Alexandria to, what was at the time one of the largest ports of the Mediterranean, Brindisi in what is now the southern part of Italy.

Religious Life

Leucius first came to notoriety when many pagans in Puglia, heard him preaching the Gospel during a drought. He claimed that if they had faith the rains would come. After the rains fell, the pagans who had heard Leucius where immediately converted. Soon after, he became the first Bishop of Brindisi, and proceeded to build the churches of St. Mary's and St. John the Baptist. The later part of his life is unknown but according to tradition he suffered martyrdom in 180. Soon after his remains were returned to Brindisi, there they remained until the Lombard invasion of 768, when they were moved to Trani, then to the duchy capital of Benevento.

Veneration

The cult of St. Leucius spread throughout the Puglia area (with many of the rural areas still bearing his name), and became much revered in Trani, Lecce, Benevento, Caserta and Capua. The spread of the cult of Saint Leucius in southern Italy came to coincide with the official conversion to Christianity of the Lombard Duchy of Benevento, Brindisi which is believed to be attributed to Saint Barbato, in 680 and the Duchess Teoderada in 706. Later that century the body of Leucius, which had begun to attract the attention of many pilgrims, was transferred to Trani, placed in a chapel located under the cathedral. Later, it was transferred to Benevento. The cult of the saint spread throughout the region, even reaching Rome where a monastery was constructed under his title as early as the sixth century. In Atessa a legend grew around St. Leucius where, the Bishop of Brindisi killed a dragon that had long terrorized the people, and witness of his work gave him one of his ribs. In the Basilica Cathedral of Brindisi which was dedicated in 1771, the altar, which closes the left aisle preserves the relic of his arm.[3] A painting of the saint adorns the cathedral, done on a canvas by Oronzo Tiso (1726-1800).

References

  1. St. Leucius of Brindisi Catholic Online
  2. San Leucio di Brindisi Vescovo Santi Beati e Testimoni
  3. San Leucio a Villavallelonga Ass. Pro Loco Villavallelonga

Bibliography

  • Pietro Degli Onofri, Vita di Santo Leucio, primo vescovo di Brindisi, Ed. Raimondi, Napoli 1789.
  • E. Bove, Il lungo viaggio del beato Leucio, Ed. del Matese, 1990.

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