Saint Leonard of Noblac

Leonard born to the Frankish nobility. Part of the court of the pagan King Clovis I. The Queen suggested to Leonard, possibly as a joke, that he invoke the help of his God to repel an invading army. Leonard prayed, the tide of battle turned, and Clovis was victorious. Archbishop Saint Remigius of Rheims used this miracle to convert the King, Leonard, and a thousand of followers to Christianity.

Leonard began a life of austerity, sanctification, and preaching. His desire to know God grew until he decided to enter the monastery at Orleans, France. His brother, Saint Lifiard, followed his example and left the royal court, built a monastery at Meun, and lived there. Leonard desired further seclusion, and so withdrew into the forest of Limousin, converting many on the way, and living on herbs, wild fruits, and spring water. He built himself an oratory, leaving it only for journeys to churches. Others begged to live with him and learn from him, and so a monastery formed around his hermitage.

However, Leonard desired further seclusion, so he withdrew into the forest of Limousin, converting many on the way, and living on herbs, wild fruits, and spring water. He built himself an oratory, leaving it only for journeys to churches. Others, recognizing his holiness, begged to live with him, and a monastery was formed. Leonard had a great compassion for prisoners, and converted many and obtaining their release.

According to legend, 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 remained with him, and he often gave them part of his vast forest to clear and make ready for the labours of the fields, that they might have the means to live an honest life.

Leonard secured the release of a number of prisoners, for whom he has become a patron saint, then, declining the offer of a bishopric— a prerogative of Merovingian nobles— he entered the monastery at Micy near Orléans, under the direction of Saint Mesmin and Saint Lie. Then, according to his legend, Leonard became a hermit in the forest of Limousin, where he gathered a number of followers. Through his prayers the queen of the Franks safely bore a male child, and in recompense Leonard was given royal lands at Noblac, 21 km (13 mi) from Limoges. It is likely that the toponym was derived from the Latin family name Nobilius and the common Celtic element -ac, simply denoting a place. There he founded the abbey of Noblac, around which a village grew, named in his honour Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat.

He died of natural causes around 559. After his death, churches were dedicated to him in France, England, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Bohemia, Poland and other countries. Pilgrims flocked to his tomb, and in one small town in Bavaria there are records of 4,000 favors granted through Saint Leonard’s intercession.

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