Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Preacher and ascetic writer, b. 20 Dec., 1676, at Porto Maurizio on the Riviera di Ponente; d. at the monastery of S. Bonaventura, Rome, 26 Nov., 1751. The son of Domenico Casanova and Anna Maria Benza, he joined after a brilliant course of study with the Jesuits in Rome (Collegio Romano), the so- called Riformella , an offshoot of the Reformati branch of the Franciscan Order [see FRIARS MINOR, II, B, (2)]. On 2 October, 1697, he received the habit, and after making his novitiate at Ponticelli in the Sabine mountains, he completed his studies at the principal house of the Riformella, S. Bonaventura on the Palatine at Rome. After his ordination he remained there as lector (professor), and expected to be sent on the Chinese missions. But he was soon afterwards seized with severe gastric haemorrhage, and became so ill that he was sent to his native climate of Porto Maurizio, where there was a monastery of the Franciscan Observants (1704). After four years he was restored to health, and began to preach in Porto Maurizio and the vicinity. When Cosimo III de' Medici handed over the monastery del Monte (that on San Miniato near Florence, also called Monte alle Croci) to the members of the Riformella, St. Leonard was sent hither under the auspices and by desire of Cosimo III, and began shortly to give missions to the people in Tuscany, which were marked by many extraordinary conversions and great results. His colleagues and he always practised the greatest austerities and most severe penances during these missions. In 1710 he founded the monastery of Icontro, on a peak in the mountains about four and a quarter miles from Florence, whither he and his assistants could retire from time to time after missions, and devote themselves to spiritual renewal and fresh austerities.

In 1720 he crossed the borders of Tuscany and held his celebrated missions in Central and Southern Italy, enkindling with zeal the entire population. Clement XII and Benedict XIV called him to Rome ; the latter especially held him in high esteem both as a preacher and as a propagandist, and exacted a promise that he would come to Rome to die. Everywhere the saint made abundant conversions, and was very often obliged both in cities and country districts to preach in the open, as the churches could not contain the thousands who came to listen. He founded many pious societies and confraternities, and exerted himself especially to spread the devotion of the Stations of the Cross -- the propagation of which he greatly furthered with the assistance of his brethren -- the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the perpetual adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, and devotion to the Immaculate Conception . One of his most ardent desires was to see the last-named defined as a dogma of faith by the Holy See. Besides the celebrated stations in the Colosseum at Rome, St. Leonard erected 571 others in all parts of Italy, while on his different missions. From May to November, 1744, he preached in the Island of Corsica, which at that time belonged to the Republic of Genoa and which was frightfully torn by party strife. In November, 1751, when he was preaching to the Bolognese, Benedict XIV called him to Rome, as already there were indications of his rapidly approaching end. The strain of his missionary labours and his mortifications had completely exhausted his body. He arrived on the evening of 26 November, 1751, at his beloved monastery of S. Bonaventura on the Palatine, and expired on the same night at eleven o'clock at the age of seventy-five. In the church of this monastery (which must soon make way for the excavations of the ground occupied by the palace of the Caesars) the partly incorrupt body of the saint is kept in the high altar. Pius VI pronounced his beatification on 19 June, 1796, and Pius IX his canonization on 29 June, 1867. The Franciscan Order celebrates his feast on 26 November, but outside this order it is often celebrated on 27 November.

The numerous writings of the saint consist of sermons, letters, ascetic treatises, and books of devotion for the use of the faithful and of priests, especially missionaries. The "Diary" ( Diario ) of his missions is written by Fra Diego da Firenze. A treasure for asceticism and homiletics, many of his writings have been translated into the most diverse languages and often republished: for example his "Via Sacrea spianata ed illuminata" (the Way of the Cross simplified and explained), "Il Tesoro Nascosto" (on the Holy Mass); his celebrated "Proponimenti", or resolutions for the attainment of higher Christian perfection. A complete edition of his works appeared first at Rome in thirteen octavo volumes (1853-84), "Collezione completa delle opere di B. Leonardo da Porto Maurizio". Then another in five octavo volumes, "Opere complete di S. Leonardo di Porto Maurizio" (Venice, 1868-9). In English, German, etc., only single works have been issued, but a French translation of the entire set has appeared: "OEuvres completes de S. Leonard de Port-Maurice" (8 vols., Paris and Tournai, 1858), and "Sermons de S. Leonard de Port Maurice" (3 vols., Paris ).


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Second Samuel 7:1-5, 8-11, 16
1 Once the king had settled into his palace and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29
2 for you have said: love is built to last for ever, ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by ... Read More

Reading 2, Romans 16:25-27
25 And now to him who can make you strong in ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 21st, 2014 Image

St. Peter Canisius
December 21: In 1565, the Vatican was looking for a secret agent. It was ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter