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  • Writer's picturePhil


TODAY IS SAINT LEONARD'S DAY, the patron saint of prisoners and the prison service, political prisoners, prisoners of war, captives, and women in labour.

According to tradition, Leonard was a Frankish courtier who was converted to Christianity by St. Remigius. He refused the offer of a bishopric from his godfather, King Clovis I, and lived as a hermit at Limoges.

He was rewarded by the king with all the land he could ride around on a donkey in a day for his prayers, which were believed to have brought the Queen through a difficult delivery. He founded Noblac monastery on the land thus granted him, and the surrounding area grew into the town of Saint-Leonard-de-Noblat.

He remained there evangelizing until his death in 596. He is invoked by women in labour, and also by prisoners of war because of the legend that Clovis promised to release every captive Leonard visited.

According to legend, prisoners who invoked him from their cells saw their chains break before their eyes. Many came to him afterwards, bringing their heavy chains and irons to offer them in homage. A considerable number remained with him, and he often gave them part of his vast forest to clear and make ready for the labours of the fields, that they might have the means to live an honest life.

Today Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat, Haute-Vienne (France), with a population around 5000, is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, on a route to Santiago. There are 162 churches dedicated to St.Leonard in England today.

Many churches were dedicated to St.Leonard in this country after The Crusades, by those who had been taken prisoner, or who felt they had escaped imprisonment

because of St Leonard’s prayers on their behalf.

Come apart from the busyness of family,

friends and work, and dwell in the presence of God,

who is our source of being.

May silence quieten us,

touch our need,

refresh our courage,

enlarge our wonder.....

COLLECT FOR SAINT LEONARD God of compassion, by whose grace your servant Leonard followed in the way of your Son in caring for those in need, and bringing release to the captive.

Help us like him to work with strength for the restoration of all to the dignity and freedom of those created in your image.

Through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Happy are they whose hope is in the Lord their God; who made heaven and earth, the seas and all that is in them; who keeps his promise for ever;

The Lord shall reign for ever. Who gives justice to those who are oppressed, and food to those who hunger.

The Lord shall reign for ever. The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind; the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;

The Lord shall reign for ever. (Psalm 146)

A Prayer for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe,

presently under house-arrest in Iran,

and for all imprisoned unjustly.

Let us pray for the tortured, 

for prisoners of conscience,

people imprisoned without a just trial,

for the innocent who have been swept away

from family and community in raids at dead of night. 

Our prayer is that their captors,

whether unjust judges 

or warders just carrying out their jobs, 

may show some compassion – 

awareness of their shared humanity.

May the families and communities of the victims

Know that they are not ‘the forgotten ones’.

As we rejoice in the freedom we enjoy

so we pray that those who dwell in a valley of darkness

may yet experience the light of Christ.

May our prayer be a reflection of that light

that no one can put out – 

even the most awful dictator – 

because it comes from God.

Living God, you have given us St. Leonard

as an example of one who extended himself

to relieve the difficulties of others; 

help us to know in our hearts

the love you have for us all

so we may reach out in genuine empathy

to those in our community

who feel lonely, isolated, or overwhelmed by grief or loss.

Help us to grow together

as a people united in concern for each other and love for you.

A prayer for all those affected by coronavirus

Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy. Sustain and support the anxious, be with those who care for the sick, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may find comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

We are sent in the name of God, whose paths are faithfulness; to confront injustice, and work to make our world the place of God’s promise. Amen.

May God bless us and keep us May God's face shine upon us, be gracious to us and give us peace. Amen.

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