Saint Leonard of Limoges, also known as Saint Leonard of Noblac, is another one of those saints that is thought to be legendary. Although there are several different accounts of his life, it is not known which is the most accurate.
Leonard of Limoges was born in the Frankish Empire sometime during the mid to late 5th century. Although his heritage is unknown, he was a high-ranking official in the court of King Clovis I (c. 466-511). It is thought that Leonard was converted to Christianity by Saint Remigius (c. 437-533) during the year 496.
There are several different stories about the events leading up to his conversion. One story that says Remigius miraculously managed to convert the entire Frankish nation within one day. Another story says that, although Leonard was still a pagan, he had prayed to the Christian God to grant Clovis a military victory. When his prayers were answered, he took this as proof that Jesus is real. Either way, Leonard, Clovis, and the entire court were baptized by Saint Remigius on December 24, 496.
After his conversion, Leonard, against the wishes of the King, retired from public life and entered a monastery. After remaining there for several years, he received permission from his superiors to become a hermit. Leonard disappeared into a forest near Limoges and lived off of berries and herbs.
Eventually, his holy life attracted other men from nearby villages and he formed a community. What Saint Leonard of Limoges is most remembered for, however, is his kindness to prisoners, especially prisoners of war. He would often visit them, bring them food and supplies, and try to obtain their release. More importantly, he fed them spiritually.
There is a story that, if a prisoner who was unjustly incarcerated said a prayer to Saint Leonard (who, by the way, was still alive), that person’s chains would miraculously break and set him or her free.
Saint Leonard of Limoges died of natural causes sometime around the year 559. Although he has been forgotten in recent times, his cult was wildly popular for centuries and there are a countless number of European towns named after him, including Saint Leonard de Noblat in the Limousin region of France.
Saint Leonard is considered the patron saint of political prisoners and P.O.W.’s. His feast day is November 6.
Source: Butler’s Lives of the Saints