St Leonard was born about 474 AD, and was a Frankish nobleman at the
court of King Clovis 1.
He converted to Christianity along with the king at Christmas 496. In 507 AD
he left the court and became a hermit for a number of years. By 511 AD he had
established a religious community in Limousin and became renowned for his
good works and teaching.
Seven families of persons who were his relatives in the north heard of his
reputation and decided to come to him and remain with him.
He was surprised but encouraged their good resolutions, saying:
“A fare of dry bread, eaten in the joy of a pure conscience, is of more
worth than a house abundantly furnished, where quarrels and
Through his prayers the queen of the Franks was safely delivered
of a male child, and in recompense Leonard was given royal lands
at Noblac, near Limoges.
He was especially noted for his efforts in ransoming prisoners of war
and for visiting other prisoners and befriending those who were or
had been in prison for their crimes.
According to legend, prisoners who invoked him from their cells saw
their chains break before their eyes. Many came to him afterwards,
bringing their heavy chains and irons to offer them in homage.
St. Leonard died on 6th November 559 AD and subsequently
became the patron saint of prisoners.