Rudesind of Celanova (d. 977)

Rudesind of Celanova is a fascinating saint of high medieval Spain whose life takes us back to another era when Spain was still Moorish and zealous Catholic bishops led armies into battle. His birth was miraculous: his mother, a local Countess, whose previous children had all died in infancy, made a pilgrimage barefoot to the hermitage of San Salvador on Mount Coruba. There she had a vision that her prayer had been granted and that her son would not only survive, but become a very holy man.

Young Rudesind (b. 907) did indeed show an aptitude for religion and administration. At the tender age of 18, against his will, he was ordained Bishop of Mondoñedo (Dumium), replacing his uncle. Around the same time he also entered the Benedictine order. He spent the next several years founding churches and monasteries and gained a reputation for justice and wise administration. In 955, King Ordoño III made Rudesind governor of the lands of Celanova, as well as the territory that extended from Riocaldo to Santa Maria de Ortigueira. Later, at the request of Elvira Ramírez of León he was also briefly made governor of Galicia.

With these lands came temporal cares, and political affairs soon pressed upon St. Rudesind. He was called upon to defend his lands by leading men into battle against the Norse and Moors who were both ravaging northern Spain in the latter 10th century. In 966 Rudesind led an army of locals and led them in victory against the Norse, killing their chief Gundered. After the battle, he was further promoted by being granted the See of Iria Flavia, and he was in charge of that diocese from 968 to 977. After 977, he retired from his sees he was succeeded by one of his monks from Celanova.

St. Rudesind was canonized in 1195 and his feast is celebrated on March 1st.