Stories of Saints and Martyrs - Jetta S. Wolff

St. Leonard

Nov. 6; A.D. 559

St. leonard is called the patron of prisoners. He was always the friend of the weak, the sinful, the fallen. Men who had done wrong, spoilt their lives, shut themselves out by their misdeeds from the society of other people, all could find a friend and helper in the good monk St. Leonard, from the moment they felt sorrow for their wrong-doing.

He was a Frenchman, born at Limousin, and had been a pupil of the great and good Bishop Remigius. The Frankish King Clovis, of whom you may read so much in history, and who had become a Christian, was very fond of Leonard, and wanted him to remain always at his court. But the saint thought there was other work for him to do; he wished to withdraw from the vain pleasures of the world, and to become a monk. He insisted upon leaving the court, and devoted his life to deeds of mercy towards the poor and sinful. He made his abode in the thick of a great forest, where he built a hut of twisted branches, and lived upon wild fruits and berries.

Here he gave up his days to quiet thought and prayer. Then at times he would come out from his retreat, and go about among the churches preaching and teaching—pouring out from the depth of his soul all his yearning to bring in to CHRIST'S fold the lost and the outcast.

So intensely did he make this desire of his heart felt, that the penitents were all drawn to him, and the forest where he lived became peopled with men and women who had come to him wishing to amend their ways. He had the best possible manner of helping them to do this—he set every one to work. St. Leonard lived about twelve hundred years before the writer of the well-known words,

"For Satan finds some mischief still,

For idle hands to do."

But this was the spirit of all he did, the principle upon which he acted.

"My sons," he used to say, "My sons, man is born to work as birds to fly. Work for your own need, and that ye may have to give to those that need more."

He set the people who came to him to clear the forests, to build themselves houses, to lead lives of activity and usefulness. So they grew interested in what was given them to do; their days were full and happy; they had no time to fall back into their former ill ways, or to dwell in useless remorse upon their past lives. Working together thus, one with another, they soon learned to take an interest each in what the other was doing, and learned besides to find their happiness in giving pleasure to the good friend who had received them kindly when shut out from all the rest of the world. Life had been opened out anew to these poor, weary, sin-stained but penitent men and women. And thus they learned in truth to "redeem the time "and their own lives, and by labouring to do their duty in the state of life in which through GOD'S mercy they were now placed, they became faithful servants of the LORD.

"So the last shall be first and the first last," for "there is joy in the kingdom of GOD over one sinner that repenteth."