Bless me Lord for I have sinned.
St Leopold would hear confessions for 10 to 12 hours a day back in the day which would be just enough time to listen to mine.
Alas St Leopold is not here any more.
Or at least in person. His statue is… in the grounds of the St James’ Church in Medjugorje in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Obviously not to scale, apart from the fact that it is… his peers would joke that they could fit him in a drawer.
Though small in stature, at just 4ft 4ins, Leopold Mandic, a Capuchin priest was a giant among men.
And probably absolved more people than there are grains of sand on the beach.
Of course Leopold’s great faith did not go unnoticed.
And when it came time for Pope Francis to pick out two saints for the Divine Year of Mercy in 2016 he plumped for Leopold and Padre Pio.
Leopold, who spent most of his ministry in Italy and is buried in Padua, led a big life.
Near to St Anthony. And I have a review of Padua on this site.
Back to Leopold.
A proud Croatian, though born in Montenegro, he refused to denounce his Croatian nationality.
And was jailed for one year during the First World War.
His monastery was also bombed and all that was left was his bedroom and confessional box.
But what makes Leopold’s story all the more remarkable is that he suffered all his life with a range of physical ailments, and walked with a limp.
Which perhaps gave him such empathy.
He was also a champion of the children, and not just because he was their height!
And he founded a number of orphanages.
St Leopold was criticised by his fellow Brothers at the time for being too lenient in confession.
It has rubbed off.
And the priest at my confession in Medjugorje (there’s a whole row outside the church hearing your sins in your own language) also cut me some slack.
I won’t, of course, divulge what goes on between a Bandanaman and his priest but suffice to say I love my wife!
St Leopold would understand – he would refer to Our Lady as ‘my holy boss’.
Now just as I seek out churches and sports events wherever I go (where people pray and play is where you’ll find the locals), I am specific too.
All of them are different, whether it’s your own language or not. And you do feel lighter afterwards.
I’ll keep you up to date with my Medge pilgrimage and the Stations of the Cross up to Cross Mountain.
To where Our Lady is said to have appeared.
In the meantime now that my sins are cleansed I need to commit more.
The Manchester United v Liverpool match is on the telly at the Irish Centre and my tongue gets looser with beer, particularly at €2.50 a pint.
Now maybe I’ll have a chat with the St James doppelgänger at church and ask him along.
After all his prayerful intercession got the telly working for the rugby yesterday.
Although some things are beyond God and Man and Ireland lost to the New Zealand All Blacks.
MEET YOU IN THE PEWS