The Life of
Leonard was a Frankish Noble, converted to Christianity by
Remigius. His Godfather was Clovis, who offered Leonard a Bishopric, which he refused. He
became a monk at Nicy and later a hermit at Noblac.The actual date of his birth is not
certain, but he was baptized by Saint Remy, Bishop of Rheims, on 25th December 496 A.D.
On reaching adult life he gave up his very considerable riches and entered a monastery at
St. Mesnil, not far from Orleans. When he was 40 he went to Noblac, near Limoges, where he
founded a monastery, and became the Abbot ot a flourishing community over which he ruled
till his death in 559. He is known as the Patron Saint of Prisoners, having caused the
release of many, and of pregnant women. His first miracle was at Misley. He was on his way
to the Church to assist at Mass on Christmas Day and was carrying the wine when he met a
poor man who begged for the wine to refresh him. He granted the man's request and the
beggar told him to go to a nearby spring. When he filled the vessel with the water from
the spring it was turned into wine for the Mass.
One day when a royal hunting party was in the forest the Queen was suddenly taken
seriously ill and the King thought she would die. Saint Leonard, hearing of this, went to
the spot and prayed so earnestly that the Queen might live that she miraculously and
rapidly recovered. The King gave him that part of the forest he could ride round on a
donkey in the night.
When he died his body was buried in the little Church at Nobiac which he had built with
his own hands.He died 6th November 559 A.D.
His cult dates from a visit to Noblac by Bohemond I, Prince of Antioch, after his release
in 1103 in return for a ransom of 10,000 besants from captivity in the hands of Malik
Ghazi, the Danishmend Emir. The Saint became widely popular in consequence.
According to the Oxford Dictionary of Saints there seems to be no trace of any cult in
liturgical books, church dedications or inscriptions earlier than the llth Century.
It here states that it was Clovis, accompanied by his wife, who hunted in the forest and
that she was safely delivered of a child there by the help of prayers of Leonard.
In England no fewer than 177 churches are dedicated to him. The dictionary also states
Leonard's historical existence is probable but unproved.
His Feast Day is 6th November.