« Hermas, known as the Shepherd Hermenigild, a saint Hermes (1) Trismegistus, writings of unknown authorship »

Hermenigild, a saint

Hermenigild (Ermenigild), St., Visigoth Catholic prince in Spain, son of the Arian king Leovigild. Hermenigild and Reccared were sons of Leovigild's first wife (Joh. Bicl. apud Esp. Sagr. vi. 378), who was dead in 569. The dates of their births are unknown (? 560–562), but Hermenigild was the elder. In 573 both sons were made "consortes regni" (ib.). Most probably between 573 and 575 (cf. Greg. Tur. iv. 38) Hermenigild was betrothed to the Catholic Frankish princess Ingunthis, the daughter of Sigibert of Rheims. In 579 (Joh. Bicl. l.c. 381) Ingunthis, then 12 years old, reached Spain, and, owing to dissensions between her and her Arian grandmother, Leovigild sent the newly married pair to a distance, assigning to Hermenigild the government of Baetica, or part of it, with Seville for a capital (ib.). Here later in 579 (cf. Görres, Kritische Untersuch. über den Aufstand und das Martyrium des Westgoth. Königsohnes Hermenigild, in Zeitschrift für Hist Theol. 1873, i. n. 83; Dahn, Kön. der Germ. v. 137, gives 580 as the year) Hermenigild renounced Arianism, was confirmed in the Catholic faith by Leander the Catholic metropolitan of Seville, and took the name of Joannes (Greg. Tur. v. 39; Greg. Magn. Dial. iii. 31; Paul. Diac. iii. 21). This was immediately followed by the rebellion of Hermenigild (Joh. Bicl. l.c.), who shortly afterwards formed a close alliance with the Byzantines in the south, and with the recently catholicized Suevi in the north, i.e. with the two most formidable enemies of his father's state and power (cf. Dahn, v. 138). Thus the struggle shaped itself as a conflict of confessions and nationalities, of Arianism and Catholicism, of Goth and Roman, although Leovigild had adherents among the provincials, and Hermenigild counted some Gothic partisans (ib. 140).

It was not till the end of 582 that Leovigild felt himself strong enough to attack his son. Seville fell in 584 (Joh. Bicl. l.c. 383), and shortly afterwards Hermenigild was captured in or near Cordova (ib.; Greg. Tur. v. 39, vi. 43), deprived of the government of Baetica, and exiled to Valencia. In 585 Hermenigild was put to death (Joh. Bicl. 384). Isidore does not mention her death at all. Gregory of Tours mentions it in passing (Hist. Fr. viii. 28). Upon the account given by Gregory the Great alone (Dial. iii. 31) rests the claim of Hermenigild to be considered not as a rebel suffering the penalty of a political crime, but as a martyr for the Catholic faith. According to the pope, Hermenigild, after a painful imprisonment, was beheaded on the night of Easter Sunday, by his father's apparitores, because he had refused to receive the sacrament from the hands of an Arian bishop. After the execution, miracles were not wanting to substantiate his claim to veneration. In his grave, according to Gregory, were laid the foundations of Visigothic Catholicism; for, after Leovigild's death, his son Reccared was converted by Leander and led the whole people of the Visigoths to the true faith.

[M.A.W.]

« Hermas, known as the Shepherd Hermenigild, a saint Hermes (1) Trismegistus, writings of unknown authorship »





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