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Leo had entered deeply into the bitter disappointments experienced by the saint during the last few years of his life, and soon after Francis's death he came into conflict with those whom he considered traitors to the Poverello and his ideal of poverty. Having protested against the collection of money for the erection of the basilica of San Francesco and having actually smashed the vase which Brother Elias had set up for contributions (see Elias), Leo was whipped by order of Elias and expelled from Assisi. He thereupon retired to some hermitage of the order and from thenceforth we catch only occasional glimpses of him. Thus we find him present in 1253 at the death-bed of St. Clare of whom he was a life-long friend. Leo appears to have passed much of his latter years at the Porziuncola and to have employed himself in writing those works which exerted such a marked influence on Conrad d'Offida, Angelo Clareno, Ubertino da Casale, and other "Spirituals" of a later generation. These writings, in which Leo set forth what he considered to be the real intention of St. Francis regarding the observance of poverty, he is said to have confided to the nuns of S. Chiara in Assisi in order to save them to posterity. Leo died at the Porziuncola on 15 November, 1271, at an advanced age and was buried in the lower church of San Francesco near the tomb of his seraphic father. He is commemorated in the Franciscan Martyrology which gives him the title of Blessed, and the cause of his formal beatification is now (1910) pending with that of the other early companions of St. Francis.
Considerable doubt still exists as to how much Leo actually wrote. The famous "rotuli" and "cedulae" which he deposited with the Poor Clares have not come down to us, but these documents are believed to have been the source from which the "Speculum Perfectionis" and some other compilations of 'materia seraphica' were more or less directly derived. This "Speculum Perfectionis" was first published as a separate work in 1898 by Paul Sabatier, who called it the "Legenda Antiguissima S. Francisci" and claimed that it was written by Leo as early as 1227, as a manifesto against Elias and the other abettors of laxity among the friars. This claim gave rise to a large controversial literature. The majority of critics ascribe the "Speculum Perfectionis" to a later date and regard it as the work of different writers. However this may be, the "Speculum Perfectionis" remains of the utmost value and interest. In spite of its polemic tone--which reflects the controversy raging within the order between the zelanti and mitigati in Leo's day--and its shortcomings from a literary standpoint if compared with the "Legends" of Thomas of Celano and of St. Bonaventure, the portrait of St. Francis which the "Speculum" presents, and which all admit to be substantially due to Leo, affords an insight into the life of the Poverello such as no formal biography contains and such as none but an intimate could have given. Leo was moreover associated with Angelo and Rufino in the composition of the celebrated "Legend of the Three Companions", a work which has been the subject of scarcely less controversy than the "Speculum Perfectionis"; he is also credited with the authorship of a life of Blessed Giles or Aegidius of Assisi inserted in the "Chronicle of the XXIV Generals", and is thought to have collaborated in the biography of St. Clare written about 1257.
APA citation. (1910). Brother Leo. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09173a.htm
MLA citation. "Brother Leo." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09173a.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Judy Levandoski. Dedicated to Brother David Liedl, T.O.R.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.
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