June 18, 2021

Saint Leontios, Bishop of Neapolis (+ 668)

St. Leontios of Neapolis (Feast Day - June 18)

Saint Leontios was born around 590 in the Cypriot city of Neapolis, which today is called Limassol. At some point he became the Bishop of Neapolis.

We do not know much about his life, and what we do know is of little certainty, but he is primarily known for what he wrote.

He wrote the Life of John the Merciful, which was commissioned by Archbishop Arkadios of Constantia. Some believe that Leontios knew Saint John the Merciful (+ 619) personally and had met him in his younger years in Alexandria. Whether this is true or not, we know that he gathered the details of his life when he went on a pilgrimage to Alexandria to venerate the relics of Saints Cyrus and John.

While visiting Emesa, Syria he learned the details about the life of Saint Symeon the Fool for Christ through Deacon John, and therefore wrote the Life of Symeon the Fool.

Besides the above two writings for which he is most known for, he also wrote others we no longer have or only have excerpts from, among which is a Life of Saint Spyridon the Wonderworker, one titled Discourse on Symeon Who Received the Lord in his Embrace, and another titled Discourse on Holy Mid-Pentecost. He also wrote an apologia against the Jews and another apologia in defense of icons. His apologia in defense of the icons was read by the Bishop of Constantia, Constantine II, at the Seventh Ecumenical Synod of Nicaea that focused on Iconoclasm. His works are considered among the few works giving any insight into the vernacular Greek of Early and Middle Byzantium.

Besides this, he probably participated in the work of the Lateran Council in 649 under Pope Martin.

The date of his repose was probably either 650 or 668.

His sainthood is probably based on the testimony of Saint John of Damascus and Bishop Constantine II of Constantia. John of Damascus says that "he adorned the island of Cyprus with his discourses." Constantine II, after reading from his discourse on icons at the fourth session of the Seventh Ecumenical Synod, said the following about him: "The father we just heard from comes from a city in Cyprus where he served in a sacred manner. He wrote many encomiums and panegyric discourses, such as one on the Transfiguration of our Savior. He also composed the life of Saint John the Merciful, Archbishop of Alexandria, as well as that of Venerable Symeon the Fool, in addition to others. All of his discourses are recognized as orthodox." Furthermore, Saint John of Damascus, Saint Nikephoros of Constantinople and Saint Euthymios Zygabenos all reference him in their works as one with patristic authority.

The Cypriot Menaion included his name among those to be commemorated on June 18th, which is the feast of Saint Leontios the Martyr.