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Saint Leo, Bishop of Catania (20 February)

Saint Leo was born in Ravenna, Italy, of pious and noble parents. He was famed for his benevolence and charity, as well as his Christian love for the poor and wanderers. After completing his studies, he was ordained as a priest at Ravenna, and later, because of his purity and his most spiritual life, he was consecrated as Bishop of Catania in Sicily. He became the protector of orphans and widows, teaching and shepherding his flock.

The Saint was also distinguished for his struggles against heretics, whom he defeated and shamed, not only by his words, but also through his writings. The Lord honoured him with the charisms of healing people from various diseases, and of working miracles.

During Saint Leo’s episcopate, there was a sorcerer named Heliódoros who lived in Catania and deceived people with his fraudulent miracles. He was once a Christian, but then he denied the Savior and became a servant of the devil. Saint Leo urged Heliódoros to refrain from his evil deeds and return to God, but all in vain. One day Heliódoros audaciously entered the church where the bishop was performing the Divine Services, and tried to create a disturbance, sowing confusion, and temptation with his sorcery.

Seeing the people beset by demons under the sorcerer’s spell, Saint Leo knew that the time for meek exhortation had passed. He came out of the altar and tied his omophorion around the sorcerer’s neck, leading him out of the church and into the city square. There he forced Heliódoros to confess all his wicked deeds. Then he commanded that a fire be lit, and jumped into the flames with the sorcerer. There they stood until Heliódoros was consumed by the fire. Saint Leo, by God’s grace, remained unharmed. This miracle brought the Hierarch great renown during his lifetime, therefore, the Saint was invited to visit Constantinople by Emperors Leo IV (775 – 780) and Constantine VI (780 – 798), where he received many honours. Saint Leo reposed peacefully in 785.

After his death, a woman with an issue of blood received healing at his grave. The Saint’s body was placed in the church of the holy Martyr Lucy (December 13), which he himself had built. Later on, his relics were transferred to the church of Saint Martin, the Bishop of Tours (November 11) in Rome.

This Saint, who was from Ravenna in Italy, lived during the reign of Leo the Wise and his son Constantine Porphyrogenitus (end of the ninth and beginning of the tenth centuries). He struggled especially against the paganism and sorcery still prevalent in those regions.

In the town of Catania, below the volcanic Mount Etna, lived St. Leo, a good shepherd and compassionate teacher of the people. He had great concern for the sick and the poor. His zeal for the Faith was as great as his charity toward the less fortunate. A magician named Heliodorus appeared in Catania and deluded the people with various illusions, greatly demoralizing the youth of the town. At one time during the divine services, Heliodorus entered the church of God and began his obscenities. St. Leo approached him, tied him to one end of his pallium, and led him to the market place of the city.

Here Leo ordered that a large fire be built. When it was raging, he stood in the middle of the blaze and pulled Heliodorus into the fire. Heliodorus was completely consumed, but Leo remained alive and unscathed. All who had been bewitched by Heliodorus and who had looked upon him as someone divine, were ashamed. The compassionate and zealous Leo was proclaimed throughout the entire kingdom as a great miracle-worker, who helped men by his shining miracles. When Leo ended his course, he took up his habitation with the Lord, and from his relics there flowed healing myrrh. He reposed in the eighth century.

Apolytikion of Leo, Bp. Of Catania
Fourth Tone
A model of faith and the image of gentleness, the example of your life has shown you forth to your sheep-fold to be a master of temperance. You obtained thus through being lowly, gifts from on high, and riches through poverty. Leo, our father and priest of priests, intercede with Christ our God that He may save our souls.

Kontakion of Leo, Bp. Of Catania
Second Tone
With songs let us all crown him who was dedicated to the Lord from infancy, and who from his swaddling bands received grace from God, even Leo, the luminary and defender of the Church; for he is her support.

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