Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Leodegar, Bishop and Martyr

detail of a stained glass window of Saint Leodegarius of Autun, choir in the church of St-Léger, Orvault, France, date and artist unknown; photographed on 17 February 2017 by Loïc LLH; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Saint Leodegar, the holy bishop and martyr, was descended from royal blood and passed his childhood at the French court Providence, however, so ordered it that he was in early youth given into the charge of the bishop of Poictiers, who was very solicitous to see him progress as well in virtue as in knowledge. At the age of twenty, the bishop ordained him deacon, and soon after made him archdeacon of his Church. He next became Abbot of the monastery of Saint Maxentius, where he governed the religious with so much wisdom and holiness, that he was unanimously elected Bishop of Autun. But when King Childeric came to the throne, he banished Ebroin, the martyr of the palace, and called Leodegar to court, as his chief counsellor. The holy bishop was distressed at this change, but thinking he might influence the young king, to the benefit of the Church and the welfare of the people, he repaired to court and entered upon his new functions with the most holy intentions.

For three years everything went well, and all well-disposed persons rejoiced that the Saint led the king with so much wisdom in the path of rectitude. There were, however, many who slandered the holy bishop and aroused the king’s suspicion against him. The Saint soon perceived that he should have no further opportunity to do good, and secretly left the court and went into a monastery from which he some time later returned to his see. Meanwhile Ebroin was recalled by Childeric’s successor, and believing that Leodegar had been the cause of his banishment, he was determined to revenge himself. Under some pretext, he marched with an army towards Autun, intending to besiege the city. The holy bishop, fearing that his beloved flock might suffer, went to meet Ebroin, accompanied by the whole clergy bearing crosses and banners. No sooner did Ebroin behold the Saint, than he made him prisoner, and ordered both of his eyes to be put out. The man of God bore this ignominious and cruel suffering with the greatest patience, not even uttering a word against the tyrant. The remembrance of his past offences, small as they were, and the hope of future reward made every pain endurable to him. “I have well deserved my suffering,” said he, “because I have sinned. My trials are as nothing compared with the glory, which is therefore prepared for me in heaven.” Ebroin, whose vengeance was not yet sated, ordered the Saint to walk barefoot over a path which was covered with sharp stones and pieces of glass. Saint Leodegar did not resist, but walked over it until his feet, wounded and bloody, could carry him no longer, and he sank fainting to the ground. At last, the revengeful and inhuman tyrant ordered his tongue to be cut out and his lips cut off, and confined him in a cloister. This also the holy man bore with heroic fortitude. “I willingly suffer for a short time,” said he, “in order to reign and rejoice during a whole eternity.”

The Almighty, who had sustained His faithful servant in these barbarous tortures, bestowed especial graces on him in the cloister to which he had been condemned. Among others was that he was able to speak, though deprived of his tongue and lips. This grace the holy man made use of to the honor and praise of God and the salvation of souls. He preached to the people with great zeal, and exhorted them to a Christian life, without ever alluding to the tortures he had so innocently suffered by the command of Ebroin. Meanwhile, the latter, becoming more and more enraged against him, had him taken out of the cloister and beheaded. God, however, proclaimed to the world the innocence and holiness of Leodegar by many miracles, while Ebroin and all who had taken part in the persecution of the Saint, received their well-deserved punishment even in this world. Ebroin was murdered in his sins; the others became possessed by the devil, and were by him horribly tormented.

Practical Considerations

• Learn from the life of Saint Leodegar, that the Almighty does not always recompense on earth the good deeds of His faithful servants, but often lets them suffer innocently until the end of their days. In heaven they receive their reward, and one which never ends. Learn also that God does not always punish the wicked in this world for their evil deeds, but permits them often to live in prosperity and happiness. Some wicked people are induced by this to still greater vice, like the godless Ebroin; but they may also, like him, be suddenly taken away in their sins and precipitated into hell when they least think of it. But should this not take place, they will not escape their well-merited punishment in the next world, if they do not prevent it by penance. Therefore, be not sad, complain and despair not, if you have to suffer in this world. If you still endeavor to serve God fervently, you will surely receive your recompense in heaven. And if you live in sin and are not punished on this earth, do not flatter yourself that you are secure from the punishment of the Almighty. Say not: “I have sinned and what harm hath befallen me? For the Most High is a patient rewarder;” says the Wise Man. (Eccles. 5) “But do not think that you shalt escape unpunished, for that you hast attempted to fight against God, or to offend God,” said one of the seven heroic Maccabees to the godless Antiochus. (2nd Maccabees 7) God may withhold the punishment you deserve a long time, but He does not therefore let you go free. That you are not punished in this world is the surest sign that eternal punishment awaits you; for, Saint Augustine says: “If the godless are not punished here below, it is a sign that they are reserved for eternal punishment; hence,” continues he, “if we commit sin and are not punished in this world, we have so much more reason to fear.”

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saint Leodegar, Bishop and Martyr”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 9 May 2018. Web. 17 January 2019. <>