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St. Leocadia

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Virgin and martyr, d. 9 December, probably 304, in the Diocletian persecution. The last great persecution gave the Church in Spain a succession of martyrs, who from 303 until 305 suffered death for the Christian Faith. In the historical martyrologies of the ninth century, St. Leocadia of Toledo is honoured among these martyrs on 9 December. Her name is not mentioned by Prudentius in his hymn on the Spanish Martyrs, but in very early times there was a church dedicated to her at Toledo. In the first half of the seventh century this church was mentioned as the meeting-place of the Fourth Synod of Toledo in 633, as well as of the fifth in 636, and the sixth in 638 (Concil. Toletanum IV, mentions the "basilica beatissimae et sanctae Confessoris Leocadiae"; Mansi, "Concil. Coll.", X, 615). Long before that date, therefore, Leocadia must have been publicly honoured as a martyr. The basilica in question was evidently erected over her grave. There is no doubt of the historical fact of her martyrdom, whilst the date of 9 December for her annual commemoration obviously rests on the tradition of the Church of Toledo. More recently compiled Acts relate that Leocadia was filled with a desire for martyrdom through the story of the martyrdom of St. Eulalia. By order of the governor, Decianus, who is described in the martyrology as the most furious persecutor of the Christians in Spain, she was seized and cruelly tortured in order to make her apostatize, but she remained steadfast and was sent back to prison, where she died from the effects of the torture. A church was built over her grave, besides which two others at Toledo are dedicated to her. She is the patroness of the diocese, and 9 December is still given as her feast in the Roman Martyrology. She is represented with a tower, to signify that she died in prison.


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