20160523 St. Leopold Mandic

Relics of St. Leopold Mandic and St. Pio of Pietrelcina arrived in Rome in February for the celebration of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
St. Leopold Mandic was born on May 12, 1866, in Castelnuovo, Croatia, the 12th child in the family. His baptismal name was Deodatus, which means “God-given.” He was poor in health and small in stature (he stood only four feet five inches tall as an adult), yet he had tremendous spiritual strength.
When he was 8, one of his sisters scolded him for a slight fault and led him to the pastor of the parish, who made him kneel in the middle of the church.
Leopold later recalled: “I stayed there, deeply saddened, and wondering within myself: why treat so severely a child for such a slight fault? When I get big, I want to be a religious, a confessor, and treat the souls of sinners with much goodness and mercy.”
At 16, Deodatus went to Udine, Italy, to study at the Capuchin Seraphic School. After 18 months, he entered the Capuchin Order as a novice on 20 April 1884, taking the religious name Brother Leopold. He studied in Padua and Venice and was ordained a priest in Venice on Sept. 20, 1890.
Father Leopold desired to work for the return to Catholic unity of the Orientals separated from the Church of Rome. After ordination, his desire to leave for the missions in Eastern Europe intensified, but his health had suffered from the hard work during his years of study.
He was assigned to various friaries in the Venetian Province from 1890 to 1906 to recover his strength. This was a big disappointment, but he accepted it with deep faith, not wanting to direct his life by personal inspiration, but by obedience.
In 1906 he was assigned to Padua, Italy. During World War I, Father Leopold spent a year in prison because he would not renounce his Croat nationality. In the prison camp he ministered as a priest to his fellow inmates.
In Padua, Father Leopold’s main vocation was hearing confessions, which he did for about four decades. The Capuchin friars often criticized him for his approach to confession, calling him too lenient.
He was lenient and compassionate towards his penitents. He was very understanding and sympathetic to the people who came to him, and would treat them with great sensitivity. Father Leopold would spend 10 to 15 hours a day hearing confessions and counselling.
It was not easy: the confessional was very hot during summer and very cold during winter. A friar once asked Father Leopold: “How is it that you are able to stay in the confessional so long?”
He answered with a smile: “You see, that’s my life.”
Another time, he said: “Since God has not given me the gift of preaching, I want to consecrate myself to drawing souls back to Him through the sacrament of penance.”
Father Leopold had a deep devotion to Our Lady. He referred her as “my holy boss.” He prayed the rosary often, and celebrated Mass daily at the side altar of the Virgin Mary.
On July 30, 1942, Leopold collapsed while getting ready for Mass. When he regained consciousness, he received the anointing of the sick. Then he repeated the pious prayers which his superior whispered to him.
At these words of the Salve Regina: “O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary,” he passed from this earth to eternal life.

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