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St. Leo was an ascetic from Cappadocia. His life and martyrdom is described in John Moschos' famous "Pratum Spirituale" ("The Spiritual Meadow"). St. Leo was distinguished by his warm hospitality to all his visitors, whom he considered as Godsend. He had a habit to say with an enigmatic smile: "Now I am on my way to become an Emperor (King)" (the word "Basileos" -"king" in Byzantium meant also "Emperor"). He was frequently derided, and even considered to be out of his wits, for this saying on the reason that there never ever had been risen an Emperor from Cappadocia. Once pagan soldiers attacked surroundings of the town near which St. Leo lived. All people, and also St. Leo, took refuge within the walls of the town. Only few old men were caught by the intruders. St. Leo left the fortress and went to the enemy camp offering himself to the pagans instead of the old men, who because of their old age and weakeness would be of no good for them, whereas Leo had enough physical power and would be of a greater profit. The pagans agreed, released the elders and took Leo instead. However, when St. Leo was loaded with sacks and asked to follow the soldiers, it turned out that Leo himself was not apt for such physical labors (even though he tried to keep his word and serve them) being weakened by his constant prayers and vigils. The pagans, having realized that Leo has teased them just in order to resque his older compatriots, were enraged and beheaded him. Only then did the people realize that when St. Leo was speaking about becoming an Emperor, he meant not earthly, but heavenly emperorship, for he fulfilled the commandment of the Savior: "There is no greater love than that when one lays down his soul for brethren", and therefore received the crown of heavenly kingdom from Him.
The source: John Moschos, "The Spiritual Meadow". Translated John Wortley. Studio Cistertian Publications, 1992. ISBN 0879075392
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