SAINT LEONARD OF LIMOGES
[Nobleman, 559 A.D. Historical]
(† Second half of the Sixth Century)
Raised in a pious family; one brother became a priest, and was later curator for Theophane's writings, and another was the bishop of Poitiers, France. Studied at the College of Doue-la-Fontaine, Montmorillon, Poitiers, and the Paris Seminary for Foreign Missions. Ordained on 5 June 1852. Missionary to southeast Asia, leaving on 19 September 1852. Worked fifteen months at Hong Kong, then transferred to West Tonkin, Vietnam.
Christians in the area were being persecuted by order of the ruler Minh-Menh. Just before Theophan's arrival, new anti-Christian orders had forced priests and bishops to go into hiding in forests and caves. Father Venard, whose health had never been good, suffered terribly, ministering to his flock by night and, when he could find a secure location, by day for nearly four years. Betrayed by an ostensible parishioner, he was arrested on 30 November 1860. Tried for his faith, he was given ample opportunity to save himself by denying Christ; he declined. He was kept in a cage for several weeks prior to his execution, during which he wrote a series of joyful, consoling letters to his family. One of the Martyrs of Vietnam.
Born: 1829 at Saint-Loup, diocese of Poitiers, France
Died: beheaded on 2 February 1861 at Tonkin, Vietnam; his head was stuck on a pole as a warning to other, but was later recovered and preserved as a relic in Tonkin; the rest of his body was sent back to his family, and is interred in the crypt of the Missions Etrangères in Paris
Beatified: 2 May 1909
Canonized: 19 June 1988 by Pope John Paul II
A slight saber-cut will separate my head from my body, like the spring flower which the Master of the garden gathers for His pleasure. We are all flowers planted on this earth, which God plucks in His own good time: some a little sooner, some a little later . . . Father and son may we meet in Paradise. I, poor little moth, go first. Adieu.
- Saint Theophane in a letter to his father just before his martyrdom