Leopold Mandic

Saint Leopold of Castelnuovo

Saint Known as San Leopold Mandić in 1983 he was proclaimed a saint by Pope John Paul II in 1983. A saint who touched the hearts of those who met him and gave a glimpse of the depth of his prayer life and his union with God.

"In Padua, Saint Leopold of Castronuovo Mandic, priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, who burned with zeal for Christian unity and dedicated his whole life to the ministry of reconciliation".

In the Roman Martyrology n. 13.

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Biographical notes

Bogdan Ivan Mandić, later to become Saint Leopold, was born on May 12, 1866, in the coastal town of Herceg Novi (Italian: Castelnuovo), on the Bay of Kotor, then under the Habsburg Monarchy but now part of Montenegro. He was the twelfth son of Dragica Zarević and Petar Antun Mandić, his father was the owner of an Adriatic fishing fleet, a native of Zakučac (in the hinterland of the town of Omiš, 28 km from Split), which at the time was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, located in the province of South Dalmatia.

Bogdan had received a Catholic education from the first years of his life, he attended the order of the Franciscan Capuchin friars, feeling called to follow that lifestyle, in November 1882, at the age of 16, he went to Udine to enter in the minor seminary of the Veneto Province of the Capuchins. Two years later he was admitted to the novitiate of the friars of Bassano del Grappa, and here on 2 May 1884 he was dressed in the Capuchin habit and given the religious name of Fra Leopold di Castelnuovo.

On May 3, 1885 he made his first profession of religious vows after which he was sent to continue his theological studies in Venice in the Basilica della Salute. In September 1890 he received priestly ordination. He remained in the Convent of Venice as a confessor then in September 1897 he was sent to Zara, where he became President of the hospice, and subsequently in September 1990 he was sent to the convent of Bassano as a confessor. In April 1905 he became Vicar in the convent of Capodistria, and in September 1906 sent to the convent of Thiene as confessor, finally in October 1909 he was sent definitively to Padua as confessor and where he would also devote himself to teaching.

Leopold was small in stature just one meter and forty tall, physically malformed curved, arthritis in the hands, delicate in health, with an awkward walk, he also had a stutter, however the expression on his face with regular features, illuminated by a lively gaze and by a sincere smile, he advantageously compensated for these defects. He was of few words but which revealed a strong personality. His ardent desire was to collaborate in the reunification with the Orthodox Church, however this desire of his did not come true, because he was destined for other assignments. From 1906 in Padua he dedicated himself especially to the ministry of Confession, he was appreciated for his extraordinary meekness. Over time his health deteriorated more and more, yet as long as he could, he had words of encouragement to all who flocked to him.

He died on July 30, 1942. When his grave was opened after twenty-four years, they incredibly discovered that his body was completely intact. Paul VI beatified him in 1976. John Paul II finally canonized him in 1983.

Leopold despite his disabilities managed to develop enormous spiritual strength and became very popular in his ministry as a confessor, he spent twelve to fifteen hours in the confessional, he became a giant of the confessional. His goodness of mind was considered excessive, even in stark contrast to the strict dictates of the Order, so much so that he suffered great suffering in the task entrusted to him in absolving sinners in the confession of penitents.

He was assisted by his great humility and his spirit of sacrifice, he burned all his energies in compassion for so many people who learned from him to find each other and recover their trust. He was belligerent by nature and capable of flaring up with unexpected and harsh outbursts. So frail it seems impossible that he could have resisted this kind of life made even harder by constant fasting, penances and prayers.

During the winter of 1941, the stomach pains that have been causing Father Leopold to suffer for a long time became more acute, he had to go to bed. And when they took him to the hospital in 1942, he found a way to confess there too. The doctors find a tumor in his esophagus, he returns to the convent. On July 30, 1942, as always, he got up early in the morning and spent an hour in prayer in the infirmary chapel. At half past six, he puts on his liturgical vestments, but is attacked by a violent illness and faints. When he regains his senses, he receives Extreme Unction, then repeats the pious invocations suggested by the Father Superior. At the words of the Salve Regina: "O clement, or pitiful, or sweet Virgin Mary", his soul takes off towards Heaven, where it is welcomed in the infinite joy of the whole celestial Court.

Leopold Mandic was beatified on 2 May 1976 by Pope Paul VI and proclaimed a saint on 14 October 1983 by the Holy Father John Paul II. The liturgical anniversary is celebrated on July 30, Patron of cancer patients.

His grave was opened 24 years after his death, surprisingly revealing the integrity of his body despite the long period of burial.

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