Saint Léonard de Port-Maurice : Le Prédicateur Infatigable-RELICS

Saint Leonard of Port-Maurice: The Tireless Preacher

Saint Leonard of Port-Maurice, born Leonardo Casanova in 1676 in Port-Maurice, near Genoa in Italy, is a Catholic saint known for his missionary zeal, his powerful preaching and his devotion to the Stations of the Cross. Canonized in 1867 by Pope Pius IX, he is celebrated on November 26. His life devoted to the service of God and the Church left a lasting mark on the history of Catholicism.

Youth and Vocation

Leonardo Casanova was born on December 20, 1676 into a pious family. His father, Domenico Casanova, was a ship captain, and his mother, Anna Maria Benza, died when he was still a child. Educated by the Franciscans at the Collège Saint-François de Genoa, he showed an early inclination towards religious life.

In 1697, at the age of 21, Leonardo joined the Reformed Franciscans at the Ponticelli convent, taking the name Leonardo. Ordained priest in 1703, he was quickly recognized for his abilities as a preacher and his devout spirit.

Mission and Preaching

Leonardo de Port-Maurice devoted most of his life to preaching and popular missions. He traveled throughout Italy, preaching with tireless zeal, often in the open air, to reach as many faithful as possible. His sermons were known for their fervor and their ability to inspire deep and lasting conversions.

Devotion to the Stations of the Cross

One of Leonardo's most significant contributions is his promotion of the Stations of the Cross. He installed more than 570 Stations of the Cross across Italy, popularizing this devotion which invites the faithful to meditate on the Passion of Christ. His attachment to this spiritual practice earned him the title of “The Apostle of the Stations of the Cross”.

Works and Missions

Léonard de Port-Maurice also founded religious communities and spiritual retreat houses. He established the "Misión de la Madonna del Riscatto" in Rome, a training and retreat center for missionaries. His popular missions were often accompanied by large gatherings, processions and moments of collective confession, thus strengthening the spiritual life of local communities.

Asceticism and Prayer Life

Despite his many activities, Leonardo led a rigorous ascetic life. He practiced frequent fasts and long night vigils, devoting many hours to prayer. His devotion to the Virgin Mary was particularly notable; he encouraged the recitation of the Rosary and Marian devotion in all his sermons.

Writings and Literary Works

Léonard de Port-Maurice was also a prolific writer. His spiritual writings, including sermons, meditations and treatises, were widely distributed and read. Among his best-known works are:

  • “The Hidden Treasure” : A treatise on the importance of the Stations of the Cross.
  • “The Twelve Promises” : A text encouraging devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
  • “The Maxims of Saint Bernard” : A compilation of spiritual precepts inspired by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.

Final Years and Death

The last years of Leonardo's life were marked by a deterioration in his health, due to his ascetic lifestyle and the physical exertions linked to his travels and preaching. Despite this, he continued to preach until the end of his life. He died on November 26, 1751 in Rome, exhausted but faithful to his mission to the end.

Canonization and Legacy

Saint Leonard of Port-Maurice was beatified in 1796 by Pope Pius VI and canonized in 1867 by Pope Pius IX. His feast day is celebrated on November 26. He is particularly revered for his devotion to the Stations of the Cross and his tireless efforts to revitalize the Catholic faith through his missions.

His legacy lives on through the religious communities he founded and the many devotions he promoted. The Stations of the Cross installed by him are still places of prayer and meditation for many faithful today.

Conclusion

Saint Leonard of Port-Maurice is an inspiring example of missionary zeal and spiritual devotion. His commitment to preaching, promotion of the Stations of the Cross and his intense prayer life left an indelible mark on the Catholic Church. His life is a testament to the power of faith and the ability of an individual to transform entire communities through word and example. As a tireless preacher and dedicated promoter of spirituality, he continues to inspire and guide devotees around the world.

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