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.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

November 6 -- Feast of Two Saints named Leonard

Both saints are considered patrons of prisoners, though only Leonard of Noblac (...of Limoges, of Limousin) is depicted with chains or shackles.  The other Leonard, Reresby, was a resident of Thrybergh (South Yorkshire, England), where the local church is named for Leonard of Noblac.  Leonard Reresby's name might have been Adam, acutally, but as his legend grew, he and the other Leonard got connected.  Thus, I suppose, it is both more and less confusing that November 6 celebrates two Leonards, both patrons of prisoners. 

Leonard of Noblac
Also Leonard of Noblac
Leonard of Noblac was a Christian attendant at the court of King Clovis of the Franks, a pagan.  Clovis rode out to to face an invading army and long odds.  Queen (Saint) Clothilde, a Christian and probably Lenny's patron at court, turned to him and joked that maybe God could help the Franks.  Leonard prayed and Clovis won.  It's hard to argue with success so the King celebrated God's assistance by sponsoring the baptism of thousands of Franks.  Archbishop Remigius of Rheims (Len's godfather) got the points for the actual conversions (who's keeping score?) but Leonard gets the assists. Later, Clovis himself was baptized, though Clothilde has the unassisted goal for that one.

Somehow, Clothilde was incarcerated somewhere.  Maybe a giant or troll had snatched her while she was riding to a judge the cattle at the fair.  I don't know and reports are sketchy.  The important part of the story is that Leonard prayed for her release, and she was released.  Once again, coincidence equals (some measure of) credit, so the grateful King and Queen gave Leonard a spot of land near Limousin to establish a hermitage.  Folks clustered around to learn his holy ways, so the small hermitage grew into a mid-sized monastery. 

Ruin of the Cross marking St. Leonard's point of arrival
Leonard Reresby was a knight and Crusader of the thirteenth century.  He was taken prisoner by the Saracens and held for seven years.  Local laws stipulated that he'd be declared dead if he hadn't come back from war after seven years, and for inheritance protection passing my understanding, his widow was under pressure to remarry.  Accounts of the legend vary, but on the night before the wedding, Leonard prayed for intervention from his prison cell and his wife (call her Penelope) also prayed.  He was transported (chains and all) from a Palestinian prison cell back to England and deposited on a hill that bore this cross.  [It has since fallen into dereliction and been moved.]  He was discovered on the hill, told of his wife's impending marriage, and carried to the church to interrupt the wedding service.  It would be a happy ending, but in a Celtic twist (to a Norman story), he died in her arms.  Whether or not she married the other guy is unrecorded.  Another version has them both vanish when reunited, and yet another version has them lived happily for many years.  The family, by the way, had a set of shackles which they kept until the reign of Henry VIII. 

The baptismal records of Thrybergh don't show a Leonard around that time, and actually Adam (son of Margery Normanville and Ralph Reresby) fought in the Battle of Borougtibridge in 1322 and was taken prisoner.  He broke free and hoofed it across the country, arriving home ragged, hungry, and in chains.  Extraordinary, but not miraculous until he was actually lifted and transported by angels.  From Palestine.  What's his name again?  Oh yeah, Leonard.  That was it.

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