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Saint Leonard

Saint Leonard
  • Century: 6th Century
  • Patronage: Political Prisoners, Imprisoned People, Captives, Women in Labor, Horses
  • Feast Day: November 6th

St. Leonard is a Frankish saint closely associated with the town and abbey of St. Leonard de Noblat, in Haute-Vienne, in the Limousin region of France.  Leonard was a Frankish noble in the court of Clovis I, founder of the Merovingian dynasty.  St. Remigius, Bishop of Reims, converted him to Christianity along with the king, at Christmas 496.  St. Leonard asked Clovis to grant him personally, the right to liberate prisoners whom he would find worthy of it, at any time.  

Leonard secured the release of a number of prisoners, for whom he has become, a patron saint of, and then entered the monastery at Micy, near Orleans under the direction of St. Mesmin and St. Lie.  According to legend, Leonard became a hermit in the forest of Limousin, where he gathered a number of followers.  It was through his prayers that the queen of Franks bore a male child, and in thanksgiving he was given royal lands at Noblac.  It was here that he founded the abbey of Noblac, and the village around it rapidly grew, and was named in his honor, St. Leonard de Noblat.  Tradition tells that 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.  Most times, many of them remained with him, and he often gave them part of his vast forest to clear and make it ready for farming, so they might have the means to live an honest life.  

In the twelfth century his followers rapidly spread.  About this same time, Noblac was becoming a stage in the pilgrimage route that led towards Santiago de Compostela.  Leonard’s followers spread through all of Western Europe.  In England with its cultural connections to the region, no fewer than 177 churches are dedicated to him.  He was venerated in Scotland, the Low Countries, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, particularly in Bavaria, and also in Bohemia, Poland, and elsewhere.  Many pilgrims flowed to St. Leonard de Noblac.  He became the most venerated saint of the late Middle Ages.   His intercession was credited with miracles for the release of prisoners, women in labor, and diseases of cattle.  His feast day was chosen for November 6th.  

Practical Take Away 

St. Leonard was a noble in the court of Clovis I, in the late Middle Ages.  He was given the power to release prisoners, based solely on his will.  He started a monastery, St. Leonard de Noblac, and this is where many of the prisoners would remain and help him, clear land and farm.  Many miracles happened around him.  Many times prisoners that would call out for him in prayer would have their chains broken and set free.  They would often bring those chains to St. Leonard at his monastery and thank him personally.  He is the patron saint of prisoners and captives.