Saint of the Day – 9 April – St Liborius of Le Mans (early 4th Century – 397) Bishop, Confessor, Reformer, Evangeliser and Shepherd of souls, Builder of Churches and Monasteries. Patronages – abdominal pains, against calculi, gravel, kidney stones or gall stones, against colic, against fever, of a Holy death, archdiocese of Paderborn, Germany, City of Paderborn, Germany, Paderborn Cathedral. Attributes – Bishop with pebbles on a book; Bishop with a peacock; episcopal attire.
St Liborius was born of an illustrious family of Gaul (a region in the Roman Empire which extended to the area on the west bank of the Rhine river of the present day Germany) and became Bishop of Le Mans, France. He was a trusty companion and great friend to St Marinus (Martin of Tours). They were both bishops, neighbours in office. St Liborius was bishop for about 49 years and ordained 217 priests, 186 deacons and 93 sub deacons and other churchmen.
Much of the ministerial life of Bishop Liborius covered the second half of the 4th century. By this time, the Roman Empire ended its persecution of Christianity with Emperor Constantine the Great’s Edict of Milan in the year 313. Freed from persecution, the Christian faith was now free to grow. However, during this time, foreign tribes roamed the land. There was chaos and misery. Bishop Liborius’ Episcopal area had been Christian for some time but heathen Druids were still active and through their mysterious pagan rites were able to influence the people. So, Bishop Liborius built many churches and celebrated the Eucharist with piety and dignity. The well-trained priests in his diocese finally triumphed over the Druids. Nowadays, we would call the works of Bishop Liborius and his clergy at the time as primary evangelisation.
In the year, 836 A.D., (9th century), the relics of Saint Liborius were brought from Le Mans, France, to Paderborn, Germany. At this time, relics of the saints were well guarded and venerated in churches and dioceses which had them. The willingness of the diocese of Le Mans to handover the relics of St Liborius to the diocese of Paderborn was a true act of charity. The event forged a long lasting friendship between the sister cities of Le Mans and Paderborn; it has existed for over 1,000 years to this day.
Since St Liborius died in the arms of his friend St Martin of Tours, he is looked to as a patron of a good death. Since the century he is prayed to for assistance against that gallstones that are caused by the water of the limestone area; the first account of a healing of this kind concerns the cure of Archbishop Werner von Eppstein, who came on pilgrimage to the saint’s shrine in 1267. This is the origin of the saint’s attribute of three stones placed on a copy of the Bible. In the same period he became the patron of the cathedral and the archdiocese, rather than the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Kilian, who were previously in first place. And he is often cited as a patron of peace and understanding among peoples. He is invoked against colic, fever, and gallstones.
As well as being shown as a bishop carrying small stones on a book, Saint Liborious is also shown with the attribute of a peacock because of a legend that, when his body was brought to Paderborn, a peacock guided the bearers.
The popularity of the saint in Paderborn is shown in the week-long yearly festival known as “Libori”, that begins on the Saturday after his local 23 July feast day but his universal memorial is today, 9 April. Today, many parishes across the world are named after this great man and Saint, as their patron.