Saint of the Day – 15 November – St Leopold III (1073-1136) – “Leopold the Good” Margrave of Austria (the Margraviate of Austria was a southeastern frontier march (borderland) of the Holy Roman Empire created in 976 out of the territory on the border with the Principality of Hungary) – born in 1073 at Melk, Lower Austria, Austria and died in 1136 at the abbey of Klosternburg, Niederosterrich, Austria of natural causes. Patronages – against the death of children, large families, Lower Austria, step-parents, Austria (since 1663 but officially proclaimed on 17 December 1913 by Pope Pius X), Upper Austria, Abetone, Italy.
Leopold was born at Babenberg castle in Gars am Kamp, the son of Margrave Leopold II and Ida of Formbach-Ratelnberg. The Babenbergs came to Austria from Bavaria where the family had risen to prominence in the 10th Century. He grew up in the diocese of Passau under the influence of the reformer Bishop Altmann of Passau.
In 1096 Leopold succeeded his father as Margrave of Austria at the age of 23. He married twice. His first wife, who died in 1105, may have been one of the von Perg family. The following year he married Agnes, the widowed sister of Emperor Henry V whom he had supported against her father Henry IV. This connection to the Salians raised the importance of the House of Babenberg, to which important royal rights over the Margravate of Austria were granted. Also, Agnes had influential connections through her previous marriage to Frederick of Hohenstaufen, one of her sons being Conrad III of Germany.
Leopold called himself “Princeps Terræ”, a reflection of his sense of territorial independence. He was considered a candidate in the election of the Kaiser of the Holy Roman Empire in 1125 but declined this honour.
He is mainly remembered for the development of the country and, in particular, the founding of several monasteries. His most important foundation is Klosterneuburg (1108). According to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared to him and led him to a place where he found the veil of his wife Agnes, who had lost it years earlier. He established the Klosterneuburg Monastery there. He subsequently expanded the settlement to become his residence. Leopold also founded the monasteries of Heiligenkreuz, Kleinmariazell and Seitenstetten which developed a territory still largely covered by forest. All of these induced the church to Canonise him in 1485.
Leopold also fostered the development of cities, such as Klosterneuburg, Vienna and Krems. The writings of Henry of Melk and Ava of Göttweig, which are the first literary texts from Austria, date back to Leopold’s time.
He is buried in the Klosterneuburg Monastery, which he founded. His skull is kept in an embroidered reliquary, which leaves the forehead exposed, it also wears an archducal crown.
In 1663, under the rule of his namesake Emperor Leopold I, he was declared patron saint of Austria instead of Saint Koloman.
The brother, Joseph and Michael Haydn, each of whom sang in the choir of St Stephen’s Cathedral, both sang in that capacity at Klosterneuburg on this day. Joseph Haydn later became the more famous composer of the two. Michael Haydn later (1805) wrote a Mass in honour of Leopold, the Missa sub titulo Sancti Leopoldi.
St Leopold was Canonised on 6 January 1485 by Pope Innocent VIII.
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