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Leander (2)

Wace's Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

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Leander (2), metropolitan bp. of Seville from (?) 575 to 600. His life covers the most important period of Visigothic Christianity, and with LEOVIGILD, HERMENIGILD , and RECCARED he plays an indispensable part in that drama, half-political, half-religious, which issued in the conversion council of 589. All that is historically known of the origin of the famous family, which included his two brothers ISIDORE and FULGENTIUS, and their only sister FLORENTINA, is derived from the opening sentence in Isidore's Life of Leander ( de Vir. Ill. c. 41; Esp. Sagr. v. 463) and from the concluding chapter of Leander's Regula, or Libellus ad Florentinam ( Esp. Sagr. ix. 355). Their father was Severianus "Carthaginensis Provinciae." At some unknown date, while Florentina was a child, the family left their native place ( Libell. ad Florent. c. 21), and settled probably at Seville. It is probable that Leander was born between 535 and 540. He would thus be a youth at the time of the family exile. Before 579, the date of the outbreak of the Hermenigild rebellion, he had been a monk, and then raised to the metropolitan see of Seville, perhaps at that time the most important ecclesiastical post in Spain. The Catholics under the Arian king Leovigild had especial need of able and faithful leaders. Probably Leander saw the opportunity of the Catholics in Hermenigild's youth and the Catholicism of his wife Ingunthis, and this conjecture is warranted by the evidence that the persuasive and eloquent bishop, who afterwards led the conversion council, laid the first stone of his great work in the conversion and rising of Hermenigild against his Arian king and father Leovigild. Leovigild's Arian council of 581 was succeeded by civil war between father and son in 582. by had already endeavoured to strengthen himself by alliances with the Catholic Suevi in the N. and the Catholic Byzantines in the S. and E. In connexion with this last alliance we next hear of Leander at Constantinople, "cum—te illuc injuncta pro causis fidei Visigothorum legatio perduxisset," says Gregory the Great, describing in after-years (Pref. in Moralia, Patr. Lat. lxxv. 510) his first friendship with Leander.

The exact date of this mission is unknown (see Görres, Zeitschrift für historische Theologie, i. 1873, p. 103); but we incline to place it in 583, about the beginning of the siege of Seville, when effectual support from the empire might have given victory to Hermenigild. In 584 Seville fell and Hermenigild was captured at Cordova. Thenceforward Arianism was triumphant, and that persecution of the Catholics by Leovigild, which is described by Isidore ( Hist. Goth. Esp. Sagr. vi. 491) and Gregory of Tours ( Hist. Franc. v. 39), was carried actively forward. In Apr. or May 586 occurred the death of Leovigild and the accession of his second son Reccared; and Leander, on receiving information as to the state of affairs, appears to have hurried home from Constantinople. (Cf. what Lucinian says of his "haste" on the journey homewards from Constantinople, Ep. Licin. ad Greg. Pat. Esp. Sagr. v.) In Feb. 587 the preliminary synod took place at Toledo, in which Reccared and his nobles abjured Arianism, and notice of the step was sent to the provinces.

The Conversion Council .—In 589 a great gathering at Toledo of the king and queen, the court, and 62 bishops, Arian and Catholic, changed the whole outer face of Visigothic history and entirely shifted its centre of gravity. The causes which led to it had been long at work (cf. Dahn, Könige der Germanen, v. on the political causes); but this third council of Toledo remains one of the most astonishing and interesting events in history. For a detailed sketch of the proceedings see RECCARED. Here we are only concerned with Leander's share in it. "Summa tamen synodalis negotii," says the contemporary bp. of Gerona, Joannes Biclarensis, "penes Sanctum Leandrum Hispal. ecclesiae episcopum et beatissimum Eutropium monasterii Servitani abbatem fuit." This justifies us in attributing to Leander the main outline of the proceedings and the wording of a large proportion of the Acts. Reccared's speeches are probably to be traced to him. They are quite in accordance with Leander's known, style, especially with that of the homily which concludes the council and was avowedly written and delivered by him. The homily ( Homilia Sancti Leandri to laudem ecclesiae ob conversionem gentis ) is an eloquent and imaginative piece of writing, with an undercurrent of reference to the great semi-religious, semi-political struggle which marked the reign of the last Arian king. "The peace of Christ, then," says Leander,"has destroyed the wall of discord which the devil had built up, and the house which division was bringing to ruin is united in and established upon Christ the corner-stone." Tejada y Ramiro, Colecc. de Can. de la Igl. Española, ii. 247–260; Gams, Kirchengeschichte von Spanien, ii. (2), 6, 41; Dahn, v. 1159, vi. 434; Helfferich, Entstehung und Geschichte der Westgothen Recht, 33–46; Hefele, iii. 44–49.

First Synod of Seville .—Eighteen months after the conversion council, Leander, as metropolitan of Baetica, and in obedience to the 18th canon of the council of 589, summoned the bishops of Baetica to a provincial synod in the cathedral of Seville, "in ecclesia Hispalensi Sancta Jerusalem" (cf. Florez, ix. on the use of "Sancta Jerusalem"). The Acts, on matters disciplinary, are drawn up in the form of a letter to the absent bp. Pegasius of Astigi (Ecija).

Correspondence with Gregory the Great .—Gregory and Leander, first made friends at Constantinople between 575 and 585, when Gregory was apocrisiarius of Pelagius II. at the East-Roman court. In May 591 Gregory, now pope, wrote a long letter to Leander (Ep lib. i. 43, apud Migne, Patr. Lat. lxxvii. 497) in answer to his old friend, who had congratulated him on his elevation, reported the Visigothic conversion and the third council of Toledo, and inquired as to the form of baptism to be thenceforward observed in Spain, whether by single or threefold immersion. The pope expressed his joy in the conversion of the Visigoths, declaring that Leander's accounts of Reccared have made him love a man of whom he has no personal knowledge. Let Leander look to it diligently that the work so well begun may be perfected. In a country where unity of faith had never been questioned, single or threefold immersion might be observed indifferently, as representing either the Unity or the Trinity of the God. head; but as in Spain the Arian mode of baptism had been by threefold immersion, it would be well henceforward to allow one immersion only, lest the heretics be supposed to have triumphed and confusion ensue. Finally, the pope sent Leander certain codices; part of the Homilies on Job, which he had asked for, were to follow, as the librarii had not been able to finish the copy in time.

Gregory's second letter, dated July 595 is a note accompanying the gift of the Regula Pastoralis with pts. i. and ii. of the Moralia.

The Pallium .—In Aug. 599 Gregory wrote to Reccared, Claudius Dux of Lusitania, and Leander. The letter to Leander announces the gift of the pallium, to be worn at the celebration of Mass, "solemnia Missarum." To Reccared the pope writes: "To our honoured brother and fellow-bishop Leander we have sent the pallium as a gift from the see of the blessed apostle Peter, which we owe to ancient custom (antiquae consuetudini ), to your deserts, and to his dignity and goodness." The exact force of the gift of the pallium to Leander has been much disputed. Florez (ix. 167) maintains it was nothing more than a mark of honour and distinction, and did not carry with it the apostolic vicariate, which had, however, been bestowed on his predecessors in the see, Zeno, and Sallustius, by popes Simplicius and Hormisdas (Tejada y Ramiro, ii. 962, 1015). In support of his supposition that pallium and vicariate were not necessarily combined, he quotes the case of bp. Auxanius of Arles, successor of St. Caesarius, to whom pope Vigilius gave the pallium when the vicariate had been previously bestowed (Vigil. Ep. vii. apud Migne, Patr. Lat. lxix. 27). Gams, however, holds that in Gregory's mind at any rate the pallium carried with it the vicariate, and that the phrase antiquae consuetudini is to be taken as referring to the vicariates of Zeno and Sallustius, and as implying the recognition by Gregory of an ancient claim on behalf of the see of Seville to represent the apostolic see in Spain. The various other bestowals of the pallium on Western bishops by Gregory, especially the cases of Augustine of Canterbury ( Ep. xi. 64, 65) and Syagrius of Autun (ix. 108), should be studied in connexion with the case of Leander (cf. Walter, Lehrbuch des Kirchenrechts, pp. 308, 277, and Thomassin, Discipline de l᾿Eglise, ii. i. cc. 25, 26). Very soon after the arrival of the pallium, at latest in 600, Leander died, shortly before the king, whose constant friend and adviser he had been.

Works .—The Libellus ad Florentinam consists of an introductory letter and 21 chapters, which constitute the Regula. The style is easy and flowing, rising at time to real pathos and sweetness, as in the beautiful concluding chapter with its well-known reference to Isidore. Its laudation of the celibate life and depreciation of marriage are quite in the taste of the time, and, to judge from Song of Solomon 5 of C. Tol. iii., seem to have been then in Spain a distinguishing mark of the Catholic as opposed to the Arian clergy.

The Homily noticed above is the only other work of Leander now extant. Isidore, however, in his Life of his brother ( de Vir. Ill. c. 41) speaks of three controversial treatises against the Arians, composed by him during his exile from Spain under Leovigild. IsIdore's description shews that they were especially intended to meet the arguments and expose the pretensions of the Arian council of 581. The last-named was probably in categorical answer to the libellus issued after the synod by the Arian bishops and expressly anathematized by the conversion council (Joh. Bicl. ad an. 581; Tejada y Ramiro, ii. p. 224).

Authorities .—Besides those already quoted, Baron. Ann. Eccl. a.d. 583, 584, 585, 589, 591, 595, 599; Nicolas Antonio, Bibl. Vet. ed. Bayer, 1788, i. 290; de Castri Bibl. Española, ii. 280; Aguirre, Coll. Max. Conc. Hisp. iii. 281–302; Fabric. Bibl. Lat. iv. 252, ed. 1754; Mabillon, Ann. Ord. S. Bened. i. 287; AA. SS. Boll. March ii. 275; Amador de los Rios, Hist. Coll. de la Lit. Españ. i. 312, 323; Montalembert, Moines de L᾿Occident, ii.


Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Leander (2)'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hwd/​l/leander-2.html. 1911.
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