Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict – Saint Levinus, Archbishop and Martyr

illustration of Saint Levinus, Archbishop and Martyr, from the book 'Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict', designed by Father Amandus LiebhaberSaint Levinus, who was the son of a Scotch noble, and was destined to win fame in the four-fold capacity of Monk, Archbishop, Apostle, and Martyr, had the good fortune to be baptized by Saint Augustine, the Apostle and Primate of England. After receiving the rudiments of his education in his native land, the boy was sent by his parents back to Augustine. The Primate received him with as much joy as a father would a son, and had him carefully trained in every branch of learning and piety. The example of the good monks, his instructors, inspired Levinus with the desire to enroll himself under the standard of Saint Benedict. The young novice soon became perfect in the discharge of every monastic duty, and then, by the order of Augustine, he returned to Scotland.

His reputation for sanctity had preceded him; so we hear that his countrymen urged that such virtue ought not to be confined within the cloister, but that the King should appoint Levinus to the Archbishopric, which was then vacant. Long did our Saint decline the honour; but when the command of his Abbot was added to that of the King, he was obliged to accept it. For several years he ruled his See with the greatest success; but, like so many other Scotch Saints, fired with zeal for spreading the Faith among heathen nations, he handed over the Pontificate to Silvanus, and with three companions crossed to Flanders.

There Floribert, the Abbot of Ghent, a monastery which had recently been founded by Saint Amandus, gave a hearty welcome to the missionaries. After they had rested there for some time and thoroughly equipped themselves for their campaign, the four soldiers of Christ set out for the wildest and most savage part of Flanders to wage war on idolatry. This campaign was crowned with victory; the false gods were thrown down from their pedestals, and the standard of the Cross was carried in triumph as far as Holta. The inhabitants of this district, too, were won over in great numbers to Christianity by the miracles which Saint Levinus was empowered to perform.

However, there were yet left in Holta some fierce and obstinate pagans, who were enraged at seeing their old gods overthrown by a few cowled monks. These, carried away by frenzy, made an attack on Levinus as he was engaged in meditation in his house. Dragging him out of doors, they cudgelled and beat him, and finally tearing his tongue out by the roots, they threw it to their dogs. The glorious prize of martyrdom for which Levinus longed was not yet to be his. By the power of the Almighty, he, whom his murderers had left for dead, revived, and, when his tongue was replaced in his mouth, he recovered the complete use of it.

His reward now was not far off. At Hesca, a village in Flanders, his bloodthirsty enemies again set on him. So savagely did they hew and hack him, that his body was cut in pieces, A.D. 633.

His remains, which were first interred near Deventer, were transferred A.D. 1007 to the Monastery of Ghent, and he is honoured to this day as one of the chief patron Saints of Flanders.

– text and illustration taken from Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict by Father Aegedius Ranbeck, O.S.B.