“You are a slave of the devil because you have a false faith, you’re not Catholic! And I will not receive Holy Communion from sacrilegious hands!”
St. Hermenegild was a Visigoth Prince matyred for the faith in 585. He was put to death by his father, the Arian King Leovigild for holding firm to the Catholic faith. His father cast him into a dungeon and after several months, sent an Arian Bishop to him on Easter Sunday to offer him a pardon if he would accept Communion from him. By his firm refusal to yield his faith to heresy, even to his father’s heresy, he earned a martyr’s crown. His story has a particular relevance to this unique and tragic time in the Church.
A few years ago, Bishop Tissier de Mallerais gave a sermon on St. Hermenegild:
“I spoke this morning to the children about Saint Hermenegild. He was a young martyr, seventeen years old, who lived in the sixth century. He was Catholic, but his father was a heretic, an Arian. He was supposed to inherit the throne of Spain, but his father, furious that his son was a Catholic, forbade him the throne and sentenced him to prison.
“Hermenegild – whom we celebrate on April 13th, was in prison for several months as Easter approached. He wanted to receive Communion, Holy Communion for Easter. His father was thinking the same thing and sent him a bishop carrying Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament! What a joy for Hermenegild to be able to make his Easter communion! Except that when the bishop entered the prison cell, he presented himself thus: “I am the Bishop of Huesca, I am an Arian and I bring you Holy Communion!” “I am Arian,” that is to say “I am a heretic, I’m not Catholic.”