The confraternity of saint Leonard during the 2002 ostensions (picture : Nicolas Duchier).
During the 15th century, in several legal acts, mention is found of, « A confraternity of the major feast of Saint Leonard, in November/ ».
The preamble to the statutes of the existing Confraternity mentions the following link, « 30 gentlemen came together in association under the title of the knights of Saint Leonard, to glorify God and honour the relics of his servant Leonard in memory of the miracle which brought the Mal des Ardents, to its end »
Despite the destruction of the archives of the Confraternity at the end of the 19th century, which prevents us from having the whole record of the history, we know that this body existed until 1774 and at the beginning of the 19th century, after the French Revolution. In 1890 at the request of the Parish Priest and several members of the Confraternity of Saint Leonard, Monsignor Renouard, the then Bishop of Limoges, confirmed the privileges of the creation of an original association, and new statutes were deposited. As had been the custom, in the past, four dignataries, called « Bayles », were given the task of regenerating its activities.
Since then, despite all the turbulences of time or of man, the Confraternity has pursued its mission and carried out a multisecular tradition « to guard and venerate the relics of Saint Leonard and develop his cult in France and around the World ». The Confraternity of Saint Leonard, voted new statutes in 1996 and is recognised as a non profit making association under French law.
About saint Leonard, the confraternity & the Ostensions :
- Saint Léonard du Limousin. Sa vie, son culte, Confrérie de Saint Léonard, Connaissance et Sauvegarde de Saint-Léonard, 2005