The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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March 9, 2001 Issue
Saint of the Day

Stresses, even in a hidden life

St. Leobinus found every day tensions in the uncommon monastery life

By Tony Staley
Compass Editor

The life of a monk probably seems like a quiet, safe and peaceful existence to most of us. That's to be expected since most of us know little of the daily existence behind the cloister, especially the strains and stresses that happen whenever any group of people live in close proximity.

But even taking that for granted, most of us probably don't think of abbeys and monasteries as places where physical violence is a strong possibility. And usually, at least today in countries such as the United States, there's no problem.

But back in the sixth century, the possibility of violence was more real, as St. Leobinus (also known as Lubin) discovered.

St. Leobinus was born into a peasant family near Poitiers, France, and worked in the fields as a boy.

He wanted an education, so he applied for a job at the monastery at Noailles, where he worked all day and studied by candlelight at night, much to the distress of the monks who said the light kept them from sleeping. So he put a screen around his candle and continued his studies.

St. Carilef eventually met Leobinus and introduced him to St. Avitus, who was so impressed with Leobinus that he invited him to join his hermitage near Le Perche, France.

Later, Leobinus joined an abbey at Lyons. He was a member of that abbey during a war between the Franks and Burgundians when raiders attacked it forcing the monks to flee, except for Leobinus and an old man. The raiders seized Leobinus at the suggestion of the old man, and tortured him to force him to tell them where the abbey's treasures were hidden.

The raiders learned nothing from Leobinus and left , believing they had drowned him. But he managed to recover and decided that being a hermit was a better idea. So he returned to Le Perche and rejoined Avitus.

After Avitus died, Leobinus continued living as a hermit until he was ordained by Bp. Aetherius of Chartres, who appointed him abbot of Brou. He served until apparently deciding he did not like administrative duties. So he left to become a monk at Lérins.

He remained there until St. Caesarius, the bishop of Arles, and a former monk at Lérins convinced him to return to Brou, rather than to leave his people "like sheep without a shepherd."

Shortly after, Leobinus was appointed bishop of Chartres, succeeding Aetherius. As bishop, he ordered many reforms and took part in the Fifth Council of Orléans and the Second Council of Paris.

After a long illness, Leobinus died in about 558 on March 14, the day we observe his feast.

(Sources: Butler's Lives of the Saints, Dictionary of Saints, Lives of the Saints II and 365 Saints)

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