Franciscan Saints




29th March


The Servant of God Leo Heinrichs


Martyr, First Order

Born in Oestrich, Germany, and given the name Joseph, from the earliest age he seemed destined for the priesthood. In fact, Joseph was engaged in preliminary studies for the seminary when Bismarck, as chancellor, launched the Kulturkampf. This was the church-state conflict that disrupted parts of Austria and Switzerland as well as Germany for several decades.


Having to leave Germany for Holland while still a boy, he joined the Franciscans and took the name Leo. He followed a band of his fellow Franciscans to Paterson, New Jersey, where his formation continued and where he was ordained to the priesthood in 1891. Father Leo's ministry was first at parishes in the New Jersey area.

In 1907 he was transferred to Denver, Colorado, and named pastor of St. Elizabeth's. On February 23, 1908, having been at the parish only five months, Father Leo was preparing to celebrate the six o’clock Sunday morning Mass. It was not his ordinary time to celebrate Mass, but he had volunteered to take the place of a sick priest. At Communion time, the parishioners slowly and quietly approached the Communion rail as they usually did. But one man received and immediately spit out the sacred host before firing a gun that had been concealed beneath his coat. The bullet hit Father Leo in the heart. As he fell to his knees, the hosts scattered over the floor; the dying priest attempted to pick them up and put them back in the ciborium. Soon, two Franciscans from the parish arrived on the scene. One anointed Father Leo while the other picked up the hosts. Within moments Father Leo Heinrichs had breathed his final breath.

Nearly four years after his death, Father Leo’s remains were transferred to a new plot in the cemetery. Although the casket and his habit had decayed, the body itself was in a remarkable state of preservation. Both physical and spiritual favors have been received through his intercession.


Leo was a lot like almost any parish priest we know. Although he left his native land and emigrated to the United States, so did many of his contemporaries. He didn’t journey to distant and dangerous mission territory or set up foundations to serve the needs of the poor. He just did his job as pastor of a parish until someone shot him at the Communion rail. Of such ordinary stuff most saints are made—which means there is hope for us, too.





Prayer of the Church


O God, who didst will that Thy Divine Son shouldst become man

upon the annunciation of the angel; grant us who humbly

beseech Thee, that we who acknowledge her to be truly the Mother

of God, may obtain assistance from Thee through her intercession.

Through the same Christ Our Lord Who liveth  and reigneth
Thee and the Holy Spirit,  One God, now and forever.  Amen



Prayer: Habig, Marion A., O.F.M., 1959, ed., The Franciscan book of Saints, Franciscan Herald press, Chicago, Illinois

Article: Foley,Leonard, O.F.M.,2009, ed., Saint of the Day Lives, Lessons and Feasts revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M. St. Anthony Messenger Press, Cincinnati, Ohio, Modified 23 February 2012, The Servant of God Leo Heinrichs,, Accessed 20 February 2013, <>

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Last edited 13/09/2017 15:38 
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