Denver, Colo., Oct 7, 2012 / 06:16 am
On Oct. 9, the Catholic Church honors the memory of Saint John Leonardi, who studied to become a pharmacist but eventually chose the life of the priesthood. He founded a religious order, and helped establish the Vatican department now known as the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
Declared the patron of pharmacists in 2006 because of his original career path, St. John Leonardi was hailed by Pope Benedict XVI during a 2009 general audience as a "luminous priestly figure" whose life offers a model for contemporary clergy. In that address, the Pope highlighted the saint's Christ-centered approach to the social and spiritual problems of his day.
The 16-century Italian priest saw that humanity "stands in extreme need of Christ," Pope Benedict recalled. Thus, St. John Leonardi's apostolate proceeded in the knowledge that "there is no area that cannot be touched by his power; there is no evil that cannot find a remedy in him, no problem that is not resolved" in the person of Jesus Christ.
Born to middle-class parents during 1541 in the Tuscan region of Lucca, John (or Giovanni) Leonardi was the youngest of seven children. He enrolled at age 17 in courses to become a pharmacist, studied diligently for 10 years and became certified to practice the trade. But the young apothecary had long been interested in the priesthood, and soon turned to the study of theology to prepare for ordination.