The Martyrdom of St Livinus by Rubens

The Martyrdom of St Livinus - Rubens, 1633

Saint Livinus (ca. 580 - 12 November 657), also Livinus of Ghent was an apostle in Flanders and Brabant. He was canonized. His feast day is 12 November.

Legend and hagiography

The legend goes that Livinus was born from Irish nobility. Upon studies in England, where he visited Saint Augustine of Canterbuy, he returned to Ireland. He later went on a “peregrinatio Domini” and left Ireland for Ghent (Belgium) and Sealand (The Netherlands) where he preached. During one of his preaches, Livinus was attacked in the village of Esse, near Geraardsbergen by a group of pagans who cut out his tongue and severed his head.

The villages of Sint-Lievens-Esse, where he was murdered, and Sint-Lievens-Houtem, where he was buried, were named after him.

Livinus was canonized in 842. His remains were transferred to Ghent around the turn of the millennium, but went missing and are believed to have been destroyed in 1578 during the Second Iconoclasm.

Myth or reality?

Recent research questions the existence of Saint Livinus.[1] There are resemblances between Saint Livinus and Saint Lebuinus of Deventer (The Netherlands), an English missionary who died in Deventer ca. 775 and who is commemorated on 12 November in the Utrecht diocese. Both figures were engaged in the christening of pagans in the Low Countries and were confronted with similar conflicts and clashes. It has been argued that monks of the Saint Bavo Abbey in Ghent, Livinius' presumed place of residence, have launched the cultus of Saint Livinus and found inspiration in the life of Saint Lebuinus.

External links

  • [1] Website of DARCOS (Service for Archeology in Sint-Lievens-Houtem) on Saint Livinus, p. 3, 25 and 29

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