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Saint Hermenegild
El Triunfo de San Hermenegildo by Francisco de Herrera the Younger (1654)
Born Toletum, Kingdom of the Visigoths
Died c. 13 April 585
Hispalis, Hispania
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church Eastern Orthodox Church
Feast 13 April
Patronage Seville, Spain

Saint Hermenegild or Ermengild (died 13 April 585) (Spanish: San Hermenegildo, from Gothic Ermen Gild, "immense tribute"), was the son of king Leovigild of Visigothic Spain. He fell out with his father in 579, then revolted the following year. During his rebellion, he converted from Arian Christianity to Chalcedonian Christianity. Hermenegild was defeated in 584, and exiled.[1] His death was later celebrated as a martyrdom due to the influence of Pope Gregory the Great's Dialogues, in which he portrayed Hermenegild as a "Catholic martyr rebelling against the tyranny of an Arian father."[2]

Marriage to Ingund

Hermenegild was the son of the Arian King Leovigild and the Catholic Princess Theodosia.[3] He was brother to Reccared and brought up in the Arian belief, but married Ingunthis (the daughter of the Frankish King Sigebert I of Austrasia), who was a Catholic. Ingunthis was pressured by Hermenegild's stepmother Goiswintha to abjure her beliefs, but she stayed firm in her faith.[4]

Under Ingunthis's influence, and that of Leander of Seville, Hermenegild was converted to Catholicism. His family demanded that he return to the Arian faith, but he refused. As a result, he led a revolt against Leovigild. He asked for the aid of the Byzantines, but they were occupied with defending against territorial incursions on the part of the Persians.[5] After some time he sought sanctuary in a church. Leovigild would not violate the sanctuary, but sent Reccared instead inside to speak with Hermenegild and to offer peace. This was accepted, and peace was made for some time.[3]

Imprisonment and death

Goiswintha, however, brought about another alienation within the family. Hermenegild was imprisoned in Tarragona or Toledo. During his captivity in the tower of Seville, an Arian bishop was sent to St. Hermenegild during the Easter Season, but he would not accept Holy Communion from the hands of that prelate.[6] King Leovigild ordered him beheaded.[3] He was martyred on 13 April 586.


  1. Peter Heather, The Goths (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996), pp. 280-282
  2. M.A. Markus, Gregory the Great and his world (Cambridge: University Press, 1997, p. 165
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Kirsch, Johann Peter. "St. Hermengild." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 28 Jan. 2013
  4. Gregory of Tours, Decem Libri Historiarum, V.38; translated by Lewis Thorpe, History of the Franks (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974), p. 302
  5. Butler, Alban. The Lives or the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints, Vol. IV by the Rev. Alban Butler, D. & J. Sadlier, & Company, 1864
  6. "Lives of the Saints: For Every Day of the Year" edited by Rev. Hugo Hoever, S.O.Cist, Ph.D., New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., (1955)


  • Walsh, Michael, ed. (1991). Butler's Lives of the Saints: Concise Edition, Revised and Updated. San Francisco: Harper. ISBN 0-06-069299-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Innes, Matthew (2007). Introduction to Early Medieval Europe, 300-900. The sword, the plough and the book. Routledge. p. 552. ISBN 978-0-203-64491-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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