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St Leopoldo Mandic
OFMCap (entered heaven on July 30, 1992)
I am glad you asked. It shows that your soul is still alive. Your long silence had been filling me with doubts about that. It’s kind of an open-ended question, “What can I do to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary in a special way during this month of transition?” But I am not going to give you an open-ended answer, because I think I know what would please her most: getting rid of what displeases her most, sin. I would say weekly confession for the coming month, starting today, would fill her maternal heart with joy. Today’s world has lost the sense of sin, so many Christians never go to confession, or don’t really take their battle against sin seriously. If you do, you will give your heavenly mother some relief. That reminds me of today’s saint.
Leopold was an unlikely candidate for sanctity. He was small of stature, had some strange foot ailment that made him seem a bit crippled, and had a serious speech impediment his whole life long. But his vocation to be a Capuchin friar was clear enough to his superiors that they accepted him. He was born in Serbia to a noble Croatian family, but the few Catholic priests in his area were Italian Capuchins, so that Order was his natural choice. A few generations previously, his family had returned to the Catholic Church from the Orthodox faith, and each year his parents and his eleven older siblings celebrated the anniversary of that return.
He did his seminary formation and studies in Italy, and his first assignments were there as well. But as professor and religious superior he was considered too lenient with the young religious, so his assignment was changed. His deep and constant longing was to dedicate himself to bringing his Orthodox countrymen back into union with the true Church, but his speech impediment and small stature, in the eyes of his superiors, disqualified him for that kind of work. So instead, he was given the ministry of hearing confessions, which he performed in a small confessional in the Capuchin house of Padua from 1909 until his death in 1942. For twelve, thirteen, fifteen hours every day he would dispense God’s mercy through the little grill. Stories of his supernatural wisdom and miraculous character abound, but suffice it say that when he was relocated in the 1920s, after only a couple weeks absence the people of Padua were up in arms and convinced their bishop to demand Friar Leopold’s return. Have you ever heard of such a thing? It goes to show you the depth of influence this humble confessor had on the souls of his flock.
Years before his death in 1942, he predicted the coming of war to Italy. He also prophesied that heavy bombings would do severe damage to Padua, and to the Capuchin friary there, but, he also said, the little, unadorned confessional that had been the channel for so much of God’s mercy to enter the world would be preserved. And it happened just so.
Today, a chapel has been erected near that confessional, and in the chapel St Leopold is buried, his body miraculously incorrupt, as if his years in the confessional brought him so close to divine grace that even his body has been claimed ahead of time by heaven.
Yes indeed, weekly confession during the coming month, I think it would be very pleasing to Our Lady, and quite salubrious for you.
Your loving uncle,