Leo was born in Assisi and joined Francis shortly after Francis had travelled to Rome to seek permission from Pope Innocent III to establish the order. As a priest he was confessor and constant companion to Francis accompanying Francis on his many preaching journeys. He was secretary to Francis, and we owe Leo a debt of gratitude, as he had kept two precious documents written by Francis himself- the blessing for brother Leo, and a letter Francis wrote to him where Leo is addressed as “brother Leo, little sheep of God.”
In the very troublesome times for Francis when he felt the condescension of the hierarchy, the lax life of some of the friars, and his own sickness, Leo was at Francis’ side when he retreated to La Verna, and to Fonte Colomba where Francis rewrote his rule of life for the friars. He was at the death-bed of Clare when she died in1253.
After the death of Francis, Leo came into conflict with those whom he considered traitors to the poor man of Assisi. Of particular concern for Leo was the practise of brother Elias to collect monies for the construction of the magnificent basilica of St. Francis. Leo’s last years were at the Portiuncula where he wrote works promoting the ideals of poverty and simplicity, that he saw as in keeping with the original vision of Francis. Leo died in Assisi in 1271.
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