St Leocadia healing oil
The St Leocadia healing oil is dedicated to the 3rd century Spanish martyr and saint. She is thought to have died on December 9, ca. 304, in the Diocletian persecution.
The feast day for St. Leocadia of Toledo appears under 9 December in the historical martyrologies of the ninth century. In very early times there was a church dedicated to her at Toledo.
The basilica in question was evidently erected over her grave. There is no doubt of the historical fact of her martyrdom. The date of 9 December for her annual commemoration obviously rests on the tradition of the Church of Toledo. Compiled Acts relate that Leocadia was filled with a desire for martyrdom through the story of the martyrdom of St. Eulalia.”
By order of the governor, Decianus, she was seized and cruelly tortured in order to make her apostatize. However, she remained steadfast and was sent back to prison. There she died from the effects of the torture.
A church was built over her grave, besides which are two others at Toledo dedicated to her.
St Leocadia ’s Relics
She was buried in the local cemetery, near the Tagus, where soon a cult sprung around her grave. It is thought that a basilica was built in the fourth century, improved upon in 618 by Sisebut. The seventh century saw a flourishing of her cult.
The prison where she is said to have been incarcerated still carried proof of her habitation. A contemporary witness records: “There still existed, and we touched it, a sign of the cross impressed in the stone. The martyr constantly touched the walls with her fingers that sign of our redemption.”
During the ninth century, her relics were moved during the persecutions of Abd ar-Rahman II. They were moved to Oviedo. Alfonso the Chaste erected a basilica there in her honor. In the eleventh century, Count of Hainault arrived in Spain as a pilgrim to Compostela. He received from Alfonso VI of Castile the relics of Saint Leocadia and Saint Sulpicius. Thus, her relics were taken out of Spain.
Location of her relics
Her relics were known to have been located at the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Ghislain, in present-day Belgium.
Her relics were venerated there by Philip the Handsome and Joanna of Castile. They recovered for Toledo a tibia of the saint. The abbey of Saint-Ghislain suffered depredations in the wars of the 16th century. Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba attempted unsuccessfully to rescue the rest of her relics. However, a Jesuit named Miguel Hernández, a native of Toledo Province, found her relics in 1583. After many travels, he brought them to Rome in 1586. They were brought to Valencia by sea, and then finally brought to Toledo from Cuenca. Philip II of Spain presided over a solemn ceremony commemorating the final translation of her relics to Toledo, in April 1587.
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.