Tuesday, November 06, 2012

St. Leonard, Abbot of Noblac, Limoges, France

The saint of the day for November 6 is St. Leonard of Noblac or of Limoges.

Leonard (who died in 559), was a French nobleman in the court of Clovis, the first king of France. He was converted to Christianity along with the king by Saint Remigius, Bishop of Reims. Leonard secured the release of a number of prisoners. He entered a monastery at Micy near Orléans, under the direction of Saint Mesmin and Saint Lie. Then, he became a hermit in the forest of Limousin, where he attracted a number of followers.

Saint Leonard was noted for his sanctity even more than his nobility. Through his prayers the French queen safely delivered a son, and, she rewarded him with royal lands at Noblac, near Limoges, where he founded the abbey of Noblac, around which a village grew, named in his honor (Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat).

In the eleventh century his cult spread rapidly. Bohemond, a charismatic leader of the First Crusade, visited the Abbey of Noblac, where he made an offering in gratitude for his release from prison. Bohemund's example inspired many similar gifts, enabling the Romanesque church and its visible landmark bell tower to be constructed.

Leonard's cult spread through all of Western Europe: in England with its cultural connections to the region, no fewer than 177 churches are dedicated to him. Leonard was venerated in the Low Countries, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, particularly in Bavaria, and also in Bohemia, Poland, and elsewhere. Pilgrims flocked to Saint-Leonard de Noblac.

Leonard became one of the most venerated saints of the late Middle Ages. His intercession was credited with miracles for the release of prisoners, women in labor, and the diseases of cattle.

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