Saints of the Day – Leopold of Austria

detail of a stained glass window of Saint Leopold III of Austria; by Tiroler Glasmalereianstalt, 1908; Saint Jodok Catholic Church, Bezau, Vorarlberg, Austria; photographed on 27 May 2012 by Wolfgang Sauber; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

(also known as Leopold the Good)

Born at Melk (Gars), Lower Austria, 1073; died in Vienna in 1136; canonized 1486; named patron of Austria in 1663.

Margrave Leopold Babenberger, the grandson of Emperor Henry III, was educated by Bishop Altmann of Passau and succeeded his father as fourth margrave of Austria when he was 23 (1095). He married Agnes, the widowed daughter of Emperor Henry IV, by whom he had 18 children. He initially supported the Concordat of Worms (1122) in the investiture controversy, but after his marriage he took the side of his father-in-law.

He was a capable and beloved ruler and a munificent benefactor of the Church. In 1106 he founded the monasteries of Heiligenkreuz (Holy Cross) in the Wienerwald (Vienna Woods) (Cistercian); Klosterneuburg (Augustinian) near Vienna; and Mariazell (Benedictine) in Styria. Additionally, he reformed the monastery of Melk.

His piety and charity earned him the popular appellation of “the Good.” He was notably free from ambition, for in 1125, he refused the imperial crown when his brother-in-law Henry V died. He actively helped the first crusade. Leopold died at Klosterneuburg after reigning as margrave for 40 years. His chronicler Otto of Freising was one of his 18 children. Historians are not without criticism of Saint Leopold; he did lay the foundation for Austria’s greatness, but also that for its ecclesiastical provincialism (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer).

In art Saint Leopold is an armed count with a cross upon his coronet, a banner with three eagles, and a model of the church of Heiligenkreuz (Holy Cross) in his hand. In some pictures he is shown (1) hunting with his courtiers, when he finds his wife’s veil near the monastery of Klosterneuburg; (2) with the Virgin appearing to him while hunting and the veil nearby; (3) with his countess building Klosterneuburg; (4) before the Virgin and Saint Anne; or (5) with Saint Jerome as patron of Klosterneuburg (Roeder). Leopold is the patron saint of Austria (Encyclopedia); his feast is a national holiday (Farmer).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 11 August 2020. Web. 25 November 2020. <>