The life size statue outside the Confession boxes in Medjugorje is of St. Leopold Mandić, he is one of the Saints of the Confessional.
Leopold Bogdan Mandić, an ethnic Croat, was born in modern-day Montenegro on the 12th May 1866 and died in Padua, Italy on 30th June 1942. He was fragile and physically deformed and walked with a limp. He was 4ft 4’’ in stature, but had an incredible spiritual strength.
He desired to be a missionary in Eastern Europe, but he spent almost all of his adult life in Italy, and lived in Padua from 1906 until the end of his life. He spent one year in an Italian prison during WWI, because he refused to renounce his Croatian nationality. He also dreamed unceasingly about reuniting the Catholic and Orthodox churches and going to the Orient. He became known as Apostle of Confession and Apostle of Unity.
Refusing to renounce his Croatian nationality during World War I, Leopold was forced to go to southern Italy, his Monastery was bombed and all that remained was his bedroom and his confession box. All this time Leopold held a hope that he would be able to return to his homeland and preach among his people, a feat that would be inhibited by his disabilities. On top of his physical deformities, he also suffered from stomach ailments, poor eyesight, and arthritis. Unsurprisingly, his Capuchin superiors declined these attempts due to his health.
St. Leopold’s Confessional
While in Italy, Leopold’s main vocation was confessions, which he heard for 34 years. The Capuchin brothers often criticized Leopold for his approach to confession, calling him too lenient and compassionate. Leopold’s compassion showed that he was more understanding and sympathetic to the people that came to him, and would treat them with great sensitivity. He was outspoken on issues with children, and being pro-life and especially fond of expectant mothers and young children. He did great work in setting up orphanages for children without parents.
Leopold also had a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary who he referred to as “my holy boss”. He was known to pray the Rosary quite often, and celebrated the Eucharist daily at the side altar in the Little Office of the Virgin Mary. He would then visit the sick in nursing homes, hospitals and homes all over Padua. He visited the Capuchin infirmary to comfort the sick friars, giving them words of advice and reminding them to have faith.
Leopold suffered from oesophageal cancer, which ultimately lead to his death at age 76. On the 30th July 1942, while preparing for the liturgy, he collapsed on the floor. He was then brought to his cell, where he was given the last rites. Friars that had gathered at his bed sang “Salve Regina,” and when sang the words, “O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary,” Leopold breathed his last.
SAINT LEOPOLD MANDIĆ PRAY FOR US. AMEN