Saint of the Day ~ November 26

SAINT LEONARD of PORT MAURICE (1676-1751), missionary priest – Patron saint of parish missions and Imperia, Italy

Today, the Church honors Saint Leonard of Port Maurice, a priest who was called “the great missionary of the 18th century” by Saint Alphonsus Liguori.

Leonard was born on December 20, 1676 in Porto Maurizio, Italy. He was given the name Paul Jerome Casanova by his father Domenico Casanova, a sea captain, and his mother, Anna Maria Benza. When he was thirteen years of age, he was placed with his uncle, Agostino, to study for a career as a physician, but, when the youth decided against medicine, his uncle disowned him.

He then studied at the Jesuit College in Rome, Italy; and on October 2, 1697, he joined the Franciscans of the Strict Observance and took the name Brother Leonard. He continued his studies and was ordained to the priesthood in Rome in 1703, where he taught for a period of time. Father Leonard expected to become a missionary in China, but a bleeding ulcer kept him in his native lands for the few years it took to recover and regain his strength.
 
In 1709, Father Leonard was sent to Florence where he preached in the city and nearby region. Renowned as a great preacher, he was often invited to visit and preach in other areas. He worked to increase devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and the Stations of the Cross.

One of his accomplishments was to set up devotions to the Stations of the Cross in over 500 different places, including the Colosseum in Rome.

In 1744, he was sent as a missionary to the island of Corsica, France by Pope Benedict XIV, where he restored discipline to those who had been ordained, but local politics greatly limited his success in preaching. He returned to Rome in 1751 exhausted, where he spent the remainder of his days.

He died on November 26, 1751, at the monastery of Saint Bonaventure in Rome. He was canonized a saint in 1867 by Blessed Pope Pius IX. In 1923, Pope Pius XI named Saint Leonard patron of those who preach parish missions.

We commemorate his feastday on November 26.

(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.org, americancatholic.org and newadvent.org)

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PRAYER

(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Pastors ~ missionary)

“God of Mercy, You gave us Saint Leonard to proclaim the riches of Christ. By the help of his prayers, may we grow in knowledge of You, be eager to do good, and learn to walk before You by living the truth of the Gospel.

“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.”

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