SAINT LEONARD OF NOBLAC (?-c.559), abbot and founder – Patron saint of prisoners and prisoners-of-war, slaves, locksmiths and blacksmiths
Today, the Church honors Saint Leonard of Noblac, a convert who used his faith to found abbeys, as well as converting and releasing prisoners and slaves.
Leonard was born into Frankish nobility and was a nobleman in the court of Clovis, the first king of France. At the time, the Frankish people were West Germanic tribes who worshipped the pagan gods introduced by the Romans.
The Frankish queen suggested to Leonard, possibly as a joke, that he invoke the help of God to repel an invading army. Leonard prayed, the tide of battle turned, and King Clovis was victorious. Saint Remigius, who at the time was archbishop of Rheims, used this miracle to convert Leonard, the king and a thousand Frankish subjects to Christianity.
Following his conversion, Leonard felt a deep desire to grow in his understanding of the God who heard and answered his prayers, so he began to live a life of austerity. His deepening desire to know God continued to grow, until he decided to enter the monastery in Orleans, France. His brother, Lifiard, followed his example and, leaving the King’s court, both he and Leonard built a monastery together at Meun and lived there.
In time, Leonard desired further seclusion, and so withdrew into the forest of Limousin, converting many on the way. In his continuing desire to live an austere life, he lived on herbs, wild fruits and spring water. He built himself an oratory (a small chapel for private worship), leaving it only for journeys to churches. All the while, others were begging to live with him and learn from him.
In the meantime, through Leonard’s prayers, it is said that the Frankish queen safely delivered a son, thereby rewarding him with lands at Noblac (now called Noblat) in the Limousin region of Southern France. This, in turn, enabled Leonard to found the abbey of Noblac, of which he became abbot for all those who desired to live with him. Around this abbey, a village eventually developed, which was named in his honor after his death (San-Léonard-de-Noblat).
It is also said that Leonard had a great compassion for prisoners; he was able to obtain the release of many and converted them to the true faith.
Leonard died of natural causes about the year 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 in the abbey at Noblac, and, in one small town in Bavaria, there are records of thousands of favors granted through Saint Leonard’s intercession before the Eternal Throne of God.
We commemorate his feastday on November 6.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, catholic-saints.info and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Religious ~ abbot)
“Lord, in Your abbot, Saint Leonard of Noblac, You give an example of the Gospel lived to perfection. Help us to follow him by keeping before us the things of Heaven amid all the changes of this world.
“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”