St Leucius the Bishop of Brindisi

Saint Leucius the Confessor was born in the city of Alexandria of pious parents named Eudykius and Euphrosyne. They gave their son the name Eutropius. The mother died when the lad was 11 years old, and his father took monastic tonsure at the monastery of St Hermias, taking along his son with him to the monastery. The boy was raised under the spiritual guidance of the Igumen Nicetas and also experienced monastic elders. The boy showed himself to be very capable, and assiduously he studied Holy Scripture. Eutropius grew up into a quiet, meek and obedient lad. When he reached age 18, the Igumen Nicetas died.

The brethren of the monastery unanimously chose Eutropius as Igumen, even though he was not yet tonsured into monasticism. Reckoning himself unworthy to guide monks when he was not a monk himself, Eutropius refused. For seven years the monastery of St Hermias remained without a head. During these years Eutropius, struggling at monastic labors, attained to an high degree of spiritual life.

One time Eutropius set off on the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God to visit all the churches of the Dormition around the city of Alexandria. At the celebrations Hellius, Bishop of Heliopolis, presided together with his clergy. At the same time he visited the monastery headed by the Igumen Theodore. It was at this monastery that both father and son then remained. By night the father Eudykios had a revelation about his own approaching end, and also that his son would become a bishop and enlighten with the light of the Christian Faith the city and region of Brundisium (now Brindisi in Calabria-Apuleia) in Italy.

And in this same vision a new name for Eutropius was revealed: Leucius, meaning “the Spirit of the Lord is come upon him.” And it was on the feast of the Dormition in the church of the Mother of God that Bishop Hellius heard a voice from Heaven, blessing Leucius for archpastoral service, and he directed the archdeacon to enquire of those praying who it was that bore this name. Then with love he blessed St Leucius and his father.

The monks of the Hermias monastery earnestly besought the bishop to install St Leucius as Igumen of the monastery. Although the ascetic initially refused, considering himself unworthy, he then submitted himself to the bishop and was ordained to the priesthood and was made Igumen.

From this time St Leucius intensified his efforts, and God granted him the grace of working miracles, and casting out demons. Once a devil assumed the form of an immense serpent, and killed many in the nearby villages. The holy ascetic hastened to come to the aid of the villagers and he delivered them from the power of the devil. Seeing this, about three thousand pagans in the vicinity accepted Baptism.

During this period the Philip, Bishop of Alexandria, died a martyr, and St Leucius was chosen in his place. Seeing that St Leucius was converting many pagans to Christianity, the eparch Saturninus decided to kill him. Wishing to defend their archpastor, some of the Christians wanted to kill the eparch. Learning of this, the saint forbade them to cause the eparch any harm. St Leucius told his flock that the Lord had commanded him to go to a pagan land and to enlighten with the light of the Christian Faith the city of Brundisium and its surrounding region.

The holy archpastor established a worthy bishop in his place, and he then took with him the deacons Eusebius and Dionysius and five students, and they hastened onto a ship sailing for Italy. Along the way they were joined by the priests Leon and Sabinus. On their journey to Brundisium the saint met up with the tribune Armaleon and his 67 soldiers, all whom he converted to Christianity. In the city he began to preach to the people about Jesus Christ. The head of the city, named Antiochus, learned that the tribune Armaleon had converted to Christianity, and so he summoned him and questioned him about the Christian teaching for a long time. Learning about St Leucius, the governor wished to meet him.

At the meeting the governor said: “If you want us to believe in the God that you preach, beseech Him to send down rain upon our land, which we have not seen for two years already.” The saint summoned his clergy and all the newly-baptized Christians, and made fervent supplication. Then rain poured down in abundance, soaking the parched earth. Seeing this miracle, Antiochus and all the city of Brundisium (27,000 people) accepted Baptism. In memory of this event, a church was built in honor of the Mother of God, and at the place where the people were baptized, a second church in honor of St John the Baptist.

Soon the saint fell ill, and it was revealed to him in a vision that he would die of the sickness. Summoning his spiritual son Antiochus, St Leucius gave final instructions to bury him at the place where the ship carrying him from Alexandria had landed. Antiochus fulfilled the request of the archpastor and built a church dedicated to St Leucius. The relics of the saint were transferred to it, and numerous miracles occurred there.