February 13: Licinius gets to be a saint, but what about his jilted, leprous fiancée?

Licinius. He was born around the year 540, to a noble French family. He served country and God well and was soon elevated to the governorship of the province of Anjou. Everyone around him persuaded Licinius that the most sensible thing for him to do would be to get married–after all, he was 38 (quite old in that time, and even in this time it is somewhat old to still be a bachelor), no dynasty to follow him, etc., etc. In the end, Licinius agreed to wed. Butler’s account presents Licinius’ decision as a concession more than a desire.

And it was clearly not a marriage being entered into with a sense of love and devotion (at least not on Licinius’ part), because the morning of the wedding day, the bride-to-be (whose name is lost to history) was struck with leprosy and Licinius–rather than going through with the whole “in sickness and in health” commitment–decided that this woman’s leprosy was a sign from God to leave public life and go into “hiding himself in a world of ecclesiastics” where piety, austerity, and meditation were his daily fare. One can only conjecture from this about the true nature either of this God or of this saint or both. After all, what was this jilted bride to assume from the circumstances? What was her “sign from God” here? Was it that her health was merely a tool for a man’s calling? That her illness made her fit to be discarded? That God had abandoned her just as surely as her later-to-be-sainted fiancé? Truly, there are ways less horrifying to prevent a marriage.

Yes of course Licinius proceeded to do all manner of good works for the poor and founded a church and all those purportedly godly acts.

But what about this woman he was betrothed to?