Saint Leopold Mandic was only a poor monk for all those who knew him, small and sick. If we wanted to label him with a single word, then he would be called “confessor”.
His greatness was in sacrificing, in donating himself day after day, all the time of his priestly life, that is, for fifty-two years, in silence, in concealment, in modesty of his confessional room … ‘confessor’;
He only knew ‘to confess’. And that is precisely his greatness!”
So said Pope John Paul II in his address during the ceremony of the announcement of the Croatian capuchin blessed Leopold Mandic for a saint on October 16, 1983 at the St Peter in Rome.
Let’s paint with a few strokes the character of this extraordinary confessor, the heroic servant of the reconciliation of sinners with God.
People loved to pilgrim to Padova: from 1263 at the tomb of St Anthony, from 1909 to 1942, to confess to father Leopold Mandic; and after the year 1942, they went to the tombs of St. Anthony and St. Leopold.
These two great saints are actually guests in Padua: St Anthony is from Portugal, St Leopold Mandic is from Croatia. Both of them wanted to work elsewhere: St Anthony as a missionary in Africa, S. Leopold in the East for the unification of Christians. But they complemented each other: the first was a great preacher, another one a great and merciful confessor.
St Leopold Mandic was born in Herzegnovo near Boka Kotorska on May 12, 1866. He was named Bogdan at the baptism, and he was the youngest of 12 children. The father came from an old Bosnian noble Catholic family, but he retained only the nobility of the spirit, otherwise he was poor. Mother was deeply pious, for which. Leopold was always very grateful.
Bogdan was very intelligent, good, and religious. He knew only for his home, the church, and school. He did not participate in games or parties. When he applied for a seminary at an age of 16, he was sent to Videm by the Capuchins. At 18, he was already in the novice in Bassano del Grappa. By the age of 24, he was a consecrated priest in Venice.
From 1897 to 1900, he worked in Zadar, Croatia, from 1905 to 06 he was a vicar in Koper, 2 years confessor in Thienah. And from 1909 to 1942 he was a confessor in Padua. He was also, 10 months in between in southern Italy, and 1 month in the year 1923 in Rijeka. These are the most important dates of his rich life.
Heroic servant of the reconciliation
The leaders quickly recognized him, and he also knew very well that he was the best fit for the confession room. Because he had a speaking error, he could not speak clearly; because he had no real performance attitude, he was only 1.35 m tall, and he could not act as a speaker.
But he accepted with love, and with all his love for 33 years performed the service of a confessor. In the service of the most needed sinners, he was first in various places, from the 1909 in Padua for 33 years.
He performed this service with great love because of his culture, humility and holiness of life. There were not just simple people, but especially intellectuals and aristocrats: professors and students, diocesan and clergy… He confessed daily for 10 to 12 hours.
All were welcomed, especially priests. The priests returned this love to him, his golden Mass was attended over 500 priests (September 22, 1940); And at the funeral they wanted to carry his casket.
His work describes prof. Ezio Franceschini from the Catholic University of Milan.
“That was the life of Saint Leopold Mandic: In spite of illness, cold, heat and fatigue, he was confined in a confessional cell of a couple of m2, and he continually received sinners that came before him, with the burden of sins, problems and needs.
Both patient and benevolent, always with vigilant attention and finding suitable words for everyone. Also 10 to 12 hours a day, without stopping, resting, even in the days before his death.
He had a daily renewed living thirst for the souls, to illuminate them with the light of God, to transform one’s own life into giving for others and to give God. That was the life of Saint Leopold Mandic. “
The head of the friars stumbled upon him, just a few days before his death, down the corridor to go into his confession room, sent him back to the cell, so that he should rest now. Father Leopold, tired from all the years, and even more from his illness, knelt down and begged on his knees and with open arms: “Father, have mercy on me; still so good must be done!”
Every one received the divine mercy and his priestly goodness in the confession room. He frequently went to the person, and he often thanked him at departure.
Sometimes he apologized. “They say I’m too good. Oh, God’s mercy is greater than any expectation. The example is given by Christ. I have not come so far to give life for the souls. “
All say and glorify his “unique acceptance“, “incredible patience“, “a fine feeling of never be upset“. “Trust me, I give you some penance, I will do the rest myself.” He prayed at night. “I have to do the penance instead of people who came to the confession “.
The greatest penance was surely that he had to be the whole day in a confessional cell, which measured 2.65 x 1.70 x 2.50 m in height. His obedience was that he had to be here in Padua, although he was attracted by the East so that he could work for the unification of Christians.
He trusted someone: “For now I cannot really run out of Padua: they want me to be here. But I feel like a bird in a cage. My heart is always beyond the sea. ”
Out of the Cage
Every morning he gave a mass on the side altar of the Immaculate. He prayed her prayers and several rosaries. From time to time he went to Mary, the mother of health, who was honored in the nearby parish church of St. The Cross, or to Mary of the Constantinople, which was worshiped in the Basilica of St. Justine or went to the garden of Mary’s chapel and decorated her statue with a flower.
In July 1934, he traveled to France in Lourdes, where he was extremely pleased because he was “a witness of wonderful things”.
Sometimes he stepped out of the confessional room and went in the church and approached a woman who was in a blessed state to encourage her, bless her and provide her with prayers for a happy birth. Sometimes he approached the children, sweetly smiled at them and blessed them.
He went to the city several times to visit a patient either in a private home or in a hospital: or the patients in the monastery. He, a physician of the souls, highly appreciated the doctors. He encouraged them to have loving care for the patients.
At intervals between confessions, he wrote letters to friends, confessors, and to his spiritual children. There are 220 letters preserved, which are mostly short and they are a fine example of how the love of friendship with the individuals was cultivated.
He was definitely pulled out of his “cage” by his the last short disease, cancer on the throat.
I always have the Orient before my eyes
So he wrote one year before his death (14.2.1941) from Padua. The circumstances led him to Padua. He became a Capuchin and a priest in Padua, because Italian capuchins were operating in his birthplace.
Ideally of course, for St Leopold Mandic was to work at home as an apostle of unity. Therefore, immediately after the new Mass, he asked the leaders to send him to the East as a missionary of unity.
But many many locals from Padua who went to confession with him achieved with the officials that he had to return to Padua to confess.
It seems that God himself has revealed this vocation for him for the East. On June 18, 1937, he wrote on paper: “I have been celebrating the 50th anniversary this year since I first heard the voice of God calling me to pray and work for the return of separate brothers to the Catholic community.”
On sheets and papers – a total of 66 father Leopold frequently renewed his promise in Latin which he sometimes added to the oath that he wanted to act as an apostle for unity with the East, or for the “solution of his people”, “for his brothers”, “for the solution of his people. The first sheet dates of December 17, 1905 and the last one on June 27, 1941.
In the meanwhile, God made him realize that his East, his mission, was in a confession room in Padua. At that time, he wrote: “Every soul that asks me for a confession will be my East!” He realized that by devoting Christians to the West, he saved those in the East.
He said: “The more we do in the world, the more merits we will obtain for the heaven, the more we contribute to the solution of souls. Nobody will take heaven away from us. “” We are born to work, we will rest in heaven. “
“The priest must die of apostolic efforts; there is no other death worthy of a priest. To Capuchin’s clergy in Videm, who congratulated him on the golden mass, he confided:” We are born to work. The greatest joy is if we can work. Ask the Lord God to die from the apostolic efforts.”
The Lord heard father Leopold, because he confessed and gave a Mass until July 29, until the day before his death.
Father Leopold Mandic always had a great fear of death. He was the most afraid of the righteous judgment of God. “The Master of Life wants it. It happens by his will. Just to have pity with me. ”
He lived 76 years, friar as 60 years, and the priest for 52 years.
At dawn on 30th July, as he was preparing to celebrate Mass, he fainted. He was carried back to bed where he received the Sacrament of the Sick. A few minutes later, as he spoke the final words of the prayer, Hail Holy Queen, he raised his hands and breathed his last. The news of the death of Fr. Leopold spread quickly through Padua.
For two days a long queue of people came to pay their respects to the body of the confessor at the Friary of the Capuchins. His funeral took place on 1st August 1942, not in the Capuchin church but in the much more spacious Santa Maria dei Servi. He was buried in the main cemetery in Padua, but in 1963 his body was translated to a chapel of the Capuchin church in Padua.
The untouched corpse was transferred to Capuchin church in the year of 1963. People began to pilgrim at Leopold’s grave. Evidence: So far, the worshipers of father Leopold signed in their prayers in 320 thick books, each of them having a thousand big pages. This is the real library of the human suffering and as well as trust.
Paul VI. Pronounced in the year of 1976 for the Blessed, John Paul II for the saint on October 16, 1983.
St Leopold Mandic Novena and prayer
God, Almighty Father, you made Saint Leopold a rich source of your grace for all who had recourse to him. Through his intercession, may we live our lives in love, relying entirely on your will, and strong in the hope of your promises.
Glory be to the Father
God, you show your almighty power most clearly when you grant mercy and forgiveness to sinners. You made Saint Leopold an outstanding witness through his ministry in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Grant us the grace to celebrate the Sacrament joyfully, and so experience your great love.
Glory be to the Father
God our Father, through Christ your Son who died and rose to life, you redeemed us, and you gave us Saint Leopold as a fatherly presence to comfort and guide us in our trials. Pour into our hearts the certainty of your presence and help.
Glory be to the Father
God, source of communion for all your sons and daughters, you wanted Christ to be the only Shepherd of your Church. Through the prayers of Saint Leopold, that silent prophet of spiritual ecumenism, infuse your Spirit into us, so that we may pray and give our lives for the unity of all who believe in you.
Glory be to the Father
God, you wanted Mary to be Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church, and you gave Saint Leopold a tender devotion to our Lady. May we know in our own lives the joy of her motherly protection and love.
God, glorious Lord and Father of life, we entrust to your love all our hopes and prayers. Through the intercession of Saint Leopold look kindly upon your sons and daughters, and hear the prayers you have inspired in us. Through Christ our Lord.
Sayings of Saint Leopold Mandic
- Faith, you must have faith! God is both doctor and medicine!
- Just as in heaven we have a divine intercessor, we also have the heart of a mother. Therefore we pray, “Mary, be a mother to us”.
- The Lord loves us all, including sinners, and he waits for them. The Lord wants to save us all.
- The mercy of God exceeds all expectations.
- Anything done without compassion, without a spirit of forgiveness, without love, is not Christia
- The more we do in the world, the more merits we will obtain for the heaven, the more we contribute to the solution of souls. Nobody will take heaven away from us. “” We are born to work, we will rest in heaven. “
Visiting the sanctuary and St Leopold Mandic relic
St Leopold Mandic body
The church of the Capuchin friars of Padua, now better known as the Sanctuary of St Leopold Mandic, is of sixteenth-century origin. It was rebuilt after being almost completely destroyed in World War II.
Its interior is rich with interesting canvases of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Here there is a continuous flow of pilgrims to the tomb of St. Leopold Mandic body, situated in a chamber adjacent to the church, near the little room in which the saint heard confessions.
To the front of the confessional cell of St. Leopold is the chapel where, since 1963, the body of the saint has rested. The red marble tomb is visited by an endless stream of pilgrims, attracted by the spiritual strength of a friend who continues to protect and comfort.
Inside the chapel, next to the memorial plaque, is a niche in which a reliquary of the right hand of the saint is displayed, to recall the countless occasions on which he raised this hand to absolve, bless or console.
The painted altarpiece of the chapel, the work of Lino Dinetto, depicts St. Leopold’s mission of bringing souls to the Holy Trinity, through the mediation of Jesus the Redeemer.
The priest’s stole and the Franciscan habit worn by St. Leopold recall his service and the gift of his entire existence: the confessor saint is depicted on his knees as intercessor and as a brother who points out the road that leads to intimacy with Christ. On the exterior, above the tomb, the “Light of Reconciliation” burns day and night.
The rite of offering of the oil that keeps it burning is renewed every year on 12th May, the liturgical feast of the saint.