The Servant of God, Friar Léon VEUTHEY OFMConv, was born on March 3, 1896, in Dorénaz, a small mountain village in French-speaking Switzerland. His parents, Jean Pierre and Euphrosine, produced seven children. Little Léon was the second to last to be born. He was baptized at the parish church in Collonges, Switzerland, and was given the name Clovis Emmanuel. From the age of five to fifteen, he attended primary school in his native country. Later, he enrolled in the high school, in Sion, Switzerland, where he completed his studies. In 1913 he began work as a teacher, and proved to be an excellent instructor. He continued teaching until 1920.
At the age of 25, he felt an ardent desire to convert himself to the Lord. In 1921, his vocation was realized when he entered the Order of Friars Minor Conventual. In 1921-22, he underwent his novitiate year in Schwarzenberg, Germany.
Friar Léon made his temporary profession on October 19, 1922, his solemn profession on July 25, 1925, and was ordained to the priesthood on August 16, 1925.
From 1926 to 1945 he held various important positions in the Order. He was a professor at the Collège St-Michel Preparatory High School in Fribourg, Switzerland. He served as Vice-Rector at the Seraphicum International College in Rome, which was then located on Via San Teodoro. He was a full professor of ascetic and mystical theology, the history of religions and the thought of St. Bonaventure. He was an Assistant General and a professor of philosophy at the Urbaniana University in Rome.
On May 24, 1945, the Servant of God founded the Crusade of Charity movement, headquartered in Assisi, with the idea of promoting the virtue of service among the faithful.
From 1946 to 1954, he became involved with the Focolare Movement in Rome and in 1950, their fruitful relationship resulted in the foundation of the “Crusade of Unity”. During this time, the Servant of God carried out cordial and meaningful talks with the leaders of the Focolare Movement, especially with its foundress, Chiara LUBICH.
From 1954 to 1965 he worked as an Assistant Pastor in Bordeaux, France. During this eleven-year period, he faced many difficulties, but overcame them. In 1965, he returned to Rome and served as a spiritual director and a professor at the Seraphicum International College.
In 1969, the Servant of God began to suffer from Parkinson’s disease, a malady which afflicted him until his death. On February 14, 1971, he retired from teaching for good.
Friar Léon died peacefully on June 7, 1974, at the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome. He was seventy-eight. His funeral was celebrated on June 10, 1974, at Rome’s Basilica of the Twelve Holy Apostles. His body was buried in the Order’s chapel in the Verano cemetery in Rome.
The Servant of God was an esteemed philosopher, theologian, Mariologist, and pedagogist. He was a great teacher of spiritual life and mystical speculation. In addition, he was a man of deep interior life, who was led by a continuous and intense desire to attain holiness through the observance of the Gospel in the footsteps of St. Francis and as a member of the Conventual Franciscan family, which he loved and honored throughout his life. Friar Léon felt proud to belong to the Order because he had found that Franciscan-Conventual spirituality was an admirable way of serving people, the Church and God. He learned, particularly through his own personal, spiritual ascents, that this way was his surest path back to the Trinity.
Friar Léon was a confrere of great human and spiritual stature. He was a man who, over the course of his seventy-eight years, was able to combine his passion for literature and poetry, philosophy and theology, asceticism, mysticism, contemplation and action. All of this makes him one of the greatest Conventual Franciscan personalities of the 20th century.
The diocesan inquiry into the cause of canonization of the Servant of God Léon VEUTHEY was carried out in the Diocese of Rome, between 2002 and 2007. The positio was written and published in 2010. Discussion in the Theological Commission is scheduled for May 14, 2020.
Friar Damian-Gheorghe PĂTRAȘCU, Postulator General