This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Friday, November 26, 2010

November 26 -- St. Leonard of Port Maurice

Leonard lived in 17th and 18th century Genoa. He was a Franciscan preacher who embraced the strict austerity for which the Order was known, and who enforced that austerity in abbeys which had lapsed into luxury.

His most notable achievement was the popularization of the Stations of the Cross. If you are unfamiliar with the Stations, it is basically an iconic replication of the Via Dolorosa, the torturous path Jesus followed on the way to his crucifixion. The Franciscans used the Stations to teach about the Passion, and Leonard set up about 500 sets of stations throughout Italy. Their presence in Italian churches prompted visitors from other countries to acquire them, and in this way, they became standard fixtures in Catholic churches.

As we've seen with other saints, austerity is a tough sell. To compound his problem, Genoans were not especially welcome in some other Italian nations, especially Corsica, to which the Pope had sent Leonard. Corsica was apparently so lawless and violent that men carried arms as they attended Mass. Leonard inveighed against their wicked ways for about six months before the Genoan navy was dispatched to remove him for his own safety.

As he grew older, he continued to preach with less and less success, and eventually he began making his way toward Rome. The Pope sent a carriage to carry him. As an austere Franciscan, he wanted to walk, but the Pope's men insisted. Then the carriage broke down and he got his way and walked the remainder of the trip. He arrived just in time for his own last rites and expired on November 26.

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