On this date in 1472, Orkney and Shetland became part of Scotland because the King of Norway couldn’t pay the dowry for Margaret of Denmark. Remember this the next time your daughter gets married and you are tempted to grumble about the expense.
Our eastern saint today is Leo of Catania (708 – 789), the Wonderworker. A Benedictine, he lived a hermit’s life in Reggio while acting as archdeacon. When the bishop of Catania shuffled the coil, the entire populace of that town had a vision telling them to find his successor in a hermitage in Reggio. After refusing “umpteen” times (according to one source), Leo relented, and became their bishop. (It occurs to me that very few reluctant bishops-elect ever actually get out of it. If they come knocking for you, just do it.) When the iconoclast heresy swept through the empire and he stood fast against it, he was forced into exile, living in a cave on the other end of the island (Sicily) that he had dug with his fingernails. Just about when he got them clean again, he was allowed to return to Catania.
We also learn of a time when a local Christian (either Heliodore (“lover of the sun”) or Iliodore (“lover of the Champaign-Urbana football team”) renounced his baptism, became a disciple of the Devil, and started doing “false miracles” in an ongoing attempt to lure others away from the faith. Leo put up with this patiently, and tried many times to talk Iliodore into returning to the flock, but to no avail. Things came to a head one Sunday when Leo was serving at the altar — Iliodore came into the church and conjured the image of a large, black elephant. Leo calmly set everything down, walked over to the false magician, and tied his omiphoron (Latin: pallium, scarf-like vestment that symbolizes the bishop’s office) around the man’s neck. He ordered a bonfire built in the square, and marched with Iliodore into the midst of the flames, no doubt chanting some holy tune. When it was all over, only one man walked out of the flames, unscorched (of course), and back into the cathedral to finish the service. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that he wasn’t pestered by any more sorcerers after that.
Our western saint today is Eucherius of Orléans (ca. 687 – 743). Born to a pious mother (interestingly here’s one hagiography where Dad doesn’t get a look in), Eucherius’ life-long ambition to stay a monk and not become bishop was thwarted when his uncle Suaveric (“suave Eric”), bishop of Orléans, died. All the good Christians of the town imposed upon the Lord Mayor, one Charles Martel, to impose the see upon Eucherius. A deputation was sent to the monastery with orders to drag back Eucherius, willing or no. He begged and pleaded with his fellow monks to prevent his bishopification, but they all suddenly found something else to do, and he was, indeed, bishopified.
A fine bishop he was too, by all accounts, and that would be the end of our story had he not cried foul when Charles Martel appropriated a great deal of money from the diocese to fight some war or other (with Saracens, he said). When Charles returned from the war, he grabbed the good bishop by the ear and dragged him to Paris, whence he was exiled to Cologne. The powers-that-be there were afraid he would become the nucleus of a rebellion, so they booted him to Liège. He ended up in a monastery in Belgium, happy to be a simple monk again. We are told that he saw Charles Martel one last time, in a dream — being tormented in the flames of Hell. He was so upset he asked friends to make sure Martel was still in his tomb, but with the exception of a dragon that flew out and past them, it was empty, and the inside was scorched and blackened as if by fire. Think on this, dear children, if you are tempted to steal from the church. Just let that collection plate keep right on going.
February 20 (Wikipedia)
Omer Englebert, Lives of the Saints (book on paper) – Main source
Eucherius of Orléans (St. Patrick’s, D.C.)
Eucherius of Orléans (Wikipedia)
Saint Leo of Catania (Wikipedia) – Main source
St. Leo, bishop of Catania in Sicily (St. John’s Russian Church, D.C.)
Omophorion (Orthodox Wiki)
Pallium (Orthodox Wiki)
Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.