Author Topic: St. Leonard  (Read 744 times)

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Offline Matthew

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St. Leonard
« on: November 08, 2006, 09:10:33 AM »
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  • November 6th - Saint Leonard, Hermit, Patron of prisoners
    (d.  Second half of the Sixth Century)

    Saint Leonard was born towards the end of the fifth century of illustrious
    parents, residing in the part of the province of Gaul which was then
    beginning to be called France. Several historians believe that with his
    brother Saint Lifard, his origins can be traced to the castle of Vendome
    in the region of Orleans. He belonged to the nation of the Franks, and at the
    court of Clovis his relatives were dignitaries, baptized at the same time
    as the king by Saint Remi. That monarch himself stood as sponsor in Baptism
    for this child of predilection.

    As Leonard grew he was so moved by the holy examples of the bishop of
    Rheims that he renounced the world in order to lead a more perfect life. When
    Saint Remi had trained Leonard in virtue and conferred on him the tonsure, he
    began to exercise his charity on behalf of prisoners. Clovis, in response
    to a prayer of Saint Remi, had already issued an edict that prisoners in
    Rheims might be freed whenever his royal highness would pass through that city.
    Leonard asked the kind monarch to grant him personally the right to liberate
    prisoners whom he would find worthy of it, any time at all.

    The reputation of Saint Leonard's goodness and sanctity soon spread, and the
    sick came to him for healing and alms. He did not fail to teach them also
    the value of Christian patience and to console them by the divine doctrine.
    The king desired to attach him permanently to his court, but Saint Leonard,
    in a discourse brilliant by its humility, replied that he preferred to live
    in the obscurity Christ had chosen for Himself for so many years, and he
    retired to a monastery. Saint Maximin, its abbot, saw to it that he was
    ordained a deacon, which office he accepted out of obedience, but he did not
    aspire to any additional ecclesiastical dignities. He recognized that his
    role was not to remain always in the monastery, and departed to preach to
    the pagans of the province of Limoges. He found on a nearby mountain a
    forested solitude where he decided to remain, and there he built a cell of
    branches and considered himself rich in the possession of God, joyous in his
    freedom to devote himself to meditation, prayer and mortification.

    He continued to obtain miracles when solicited by the suffering members of
    Jesus Christ. The spouse of a king living nearby had a successful delivery
    of a child by his prayers, when her very life was despaired of; and the king
    in gratitude gave him a part of the forest to dispose of as he wished. He
    then built an oratory to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Two disciples joined him
    in this sanctuary, continuing to pray without interruption when their master
    went on pilgrimage to the tombs of the Saints.

    Soon the sick came to Saint Leonard here also, and prisoners who invoked him
    from their cells saw their chains break before their eyes. Many came to him
    afterwards, bringing their heavy chains and irons to offer them in homage.

    A considerable number wished to remain with him, and he often gave them part
    of his vast forest to clear and make ready for the labors of the fields,
    that they might have the means to live an honest life. He continued to be
    their guardian and father and preached the religion of our Saviour to them;
    and those who had once been malefactors were transformed by prayer and labor.

    Seven families of persons who were his relatives in the north heard of his
    reputation and decided to come to him and remain with him. He was surprised
    but encouraged their good resolutions, saying: "A fare of dry bread, eaten
    in the joy of a pure conscience, is of more worth than a house abundantly
    furnished, where quarrels and divisions prevail." After increasing in
    holiness until his last days, he died on the 6th of November in the oratory
    he had dedicated to Our Lady, after having himself transported there,
    sometime during the second half of the sixth century. Miracles on behalf of
    prisoners and the sick followed, as they had preceded, his death. The cult
    of Saint Leonard has remained extremely popular in France ever since; and
    throughout all of Europe churches and monasteries have been placed under his
    invocation.
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