(1541 – October 9, 1609)
Saint John Leonardi chose to become a priest.
After his ordination, Fr. Leonardi became very active in the works of the ministry, especially in hospitals and prisons. The example and dedication of his work attracted several young laymen who began to assist him. They later became priests themselves.
John lived after the Protestant Reformation and the Council of Trent. He and his followers projected a new congregation of diocesan priests. For some reason the plan, which was ultimately approved, provoked great political opposition. John was exiled from his home town of Lucca, Italy, for almost the entire remainder of his life. He received encouragement and help from Saint Philip Neri, who gave him his lodgings—along with the care of his cat!
In 1579, John formed the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, and published a compendium of Christian doctrine that remained in use until the 19th century.
Father Leonardi and his priests became a great power for good in Italy, and their congregation was confirmed by Pope Clement in 1595. John died at the age of 68 from a disease caught when tending those stricken by the plague.
By the deliberate policy of the founder, the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God have never had more than 15 churches, and today form only a very small congregation. The Liturgical Feast of Saint John Leonardi is October 9.
Edited from Franciscan Media
giver of all good things,
you proclaimed the good news to countless people
through the ministry of Saint John Leonardi.
By the help of his prayers
may the true faith continue to grow.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.