Thursday, January 3, 2013
St. Leopold Mandic, Priest, Confessor, Saint
12th May, 1866,
in Castelnuovo - a small port at the southern tip of Dalmatia
a twelfth child was born to Peter and Caroline Mandic. He was named and baptised Bogdan,
Although physically frail, from his youth he showed signs of great spiritual strength and integrity. At the age of 16 years, Bogdan left home for
where he put himself under the tuition of the Capuchins at Udine
as a student in the
and an aspirant for the Order. Life was not easy for him there, since he was
physically malformed and still delicate in health. Nevertheless, he applied
himself to his studies with great enthusiasm. And on Seraphic School 20th April, 1884, Bogdan entered the Capuchin
Order as a novice at Bassano del Grappa and took the religious name of Brother
Leopold. In spite of the austerities of Capuchin life, he persevered with
courage and drank deeply of Franciscan Spirituality of which he was to become
one of the finest models.
After his Profession of Vows in May, 1885, he embarked on a course of clerical studies first at
and then at Venice. Finally, he was
ordained in Venice on 20th September, 1890.
Now wishing to fulfil a childhood ambition of becoming a missionary in
Eastern Europe, torn apart by much
religious strife, he was denied this by his superiors and because of his
frailty and general ill-health. This was assuredly a testing-time for the new
Father Leopold, but God had other work for him to do.
From 1890 to 1906, Father Leopold was stationed at various Friaries in the
including Friaries in his homeland of Venetian Province Dalmatia, where
the Italian friars had a mission. In 1906, he was posted to Padua,
where, except for one year which he spent in a prison camp during World War I,
because he would not renounce his Croat nationality, he remained for the rest
of his life. It was in Padua that
he took up the apostolate of Confessor and Spiritual Director... a work which
proved to be the means through which God used his servant, Father Leopold, for
almost forty years, and for which Leopold Mandic is best known.
1940, Father Leopold celebrated his Golden Jubilee of the
Priesthood. After this, however, his health deteriorated rapidly. He died in
the Friary at Padua on 30th July, 1942. And soon after his
death a strong veneration of his memory began to flourish culminating in his
beatification by Pope Paul VI on 2nd
May, 1976, and, his canonisation by Pope John Paul II on 16th October, 1983.
The life of Saint Leopold Mandic is characterised by the contrast between his physical frailty and his spiritual strength. He was born physically weak, and spent the whole of his life in that condition. He only reached 4ft 5ins in height and his general health became worse as he grew older. He suffered from abdominal pains, and was gradually deformed by chronic arthritis in later life, making his frame stooped and his hands gnarled, giving him much pain. He also suffered from a stammer in his speech.
But spiritually, Leopold Mandic was a giant, full of Christian strength. It was his humility and faith in God's Goodness and
that enabled him to recognise and accept his poor physical condition. And this
in turn led him to a greater realisation of his own lowliness in relation to
God's mighty power - that without God he could do nothing. This strong faith
was communicated to others when they came to Father Leopold for spiritual
advice. He would say: "Have faith! Everything will be alright. Faith, Faith!" Providence
A compassionate man, Father Leopold gave tremendous encouragement to many people, especially those despairing of hope because of an enslavement to sin. He was truly an apostle. For although he did not go to the mission territory, his long service in the Confessional proved to be his own distinct apostolate. For nearly forty years, twelve hours a day, he received, counselled and absolved thousands of penitents. In this work he was a herald of God's love and forgiveness. And his human weakness highlights the gift of spiritual strength which enabled him to carry out this untiring apostolate.
Early in his Capuchin life, Leopold Mandic was asked to surrender his missionary aspirations and personal preference so as to be given the work of Confessor and Spiritual Advisor. He once expressed his feelings about this when he said: "I am like a bird in a cage, but my heart is beyond the seas."
Above post from: Capuchin Friars