St. Leonides of Alexandria was a Christian martyr of the 3rd century AD. According to the Christian historian Eusebius, his son was the early Church father Origen. In the same passage Eusebius tells us that Leonides was martyred during the persecution of the Roman emperor Septimus Severus in the year 202 AD.
He was a Christian philosopher, and excellently versed both in the physical and sacred sciences. He had seven sons, the eldest of whom was Origen, whom he brought up with abundance of care, returning God thanks for having blessed him with a son of such an excellent disposition for learning, and a very great zeal for piety. These qualifications endeared him greatly to his father, who, after his son was baptized, would come to his bedside while he was asleep, and, opening his bosom, kiss it respectfully, as being the temple of the Holy Ghost. When the persecution raged at Alexandria, under Lætus, governor of Egypt, in the tenth year of Severus, Leonides was cast into prison. Origen, who was then only seventeen years of age, burned with an incredible desire of martyrdom, and sought every opportunity of meeting with it. But his mother conjured him not to forsake her, and his ardor being redoubled at the sight of his father’s chains, she was forced to lock up all his clothes to oblige him to stay at home. So, not being able to do any more, he wrote a letter to his father in very moving terms, strongly exhorting him to look on the crown that was offered him with courage and joy, adding this clause, “Take heed, sir. that for our sakes you do not change your mind.”
Condemned to death by the Egyptian prefect Lactus, he was beheaded, and his property seized. The feast of St. Leonides is celebrated on April 22. He is a patron of large families.
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