Church Tour

Please see the link below for pictures of St. Leonard.


The following is from a tour brochure:

St. Leonard of Port Maurice Catholic Church
Archdiocese of Omaha

A little bit about our saint. Preacher and ascetic writer, b. 20 Dec., 1676, at Porto Maurizio on the Riviera di Ponente; d. at the monastery of S. Bonaventura, Rome, 26 Nov., 1751.
He was a Franciscan priest, who dedicated his life to parish missions. He exerted himself especially to spread the devotion of the Stations of the Cross, the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the perpetual adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, and devotion to the Immaculate Conception. He also preached regularly on the Holy Name of Jesus. St. Alphonsus Liguori called him “the great missionary of the 18th century.”
As a means of keeping alive the religious fervor awakened in a mission, Leonard promoted the Stations of the Cross, a devotion which had made little progress in Italy up to this time. St. Leonard erected the Stations of the Cross in the Colosseum at Rome, and in 571 other parts of Italy. St. Leonard once said, “If the Lord at the moment of my death reproves me for being too kind to sinners, I will answer, ‘My dear Jesus, if it is a fault to be too kind to sinners, it is a fault I learned from you, for you never scolded anyone who came to you seeking mercy’.” (Leonard Foley, O.F.M., St. Leonard of Port Maurice, p.9)

Exterior Overview

The architecture is Romanesque Revival, the Architect was Jacob Nachtigall of Omaha. Fr. Muenich designed the Church. The walls of the base are eighteen inches thick. The Church walls are fourteen inches thick of solid pressed brick. There were nine doors, six of which are still used today, and sixty-six windows (thirty-nine stained glass & twenty-seven plain glass).
There were two chimneys on the east side of church.
The church is one hundred fifty-three feet in length, fifty-two feet in width, about forty feet interior height, and the tower is about one hundred and ten feet high. The tower contains a clock and three bells weighing nine hundred, sixteen hundred, and twenty-five hundred pounds. The Clock has four faces and the bells strike every fifteen minutes.
There was originally a slate roof on the church. The bell tower has a copper dome and a steeple.
Characteristics of Romanesque Architecture massive walls, high rib-vaulted ceilings, huge columns, rounded archways, all of which are represented in this Church.

Entering the House of God

Above the main doors is a stained glass window of Christ with the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1-7), indicating that Christ has searched us out when we had wandered far, and has brought us on His shoulders to the House of God. Above that window on the outside is a stained glass of St. Cecilia. She is the Patroness of Music, but more locally significant, Patroness of the Archdiocese of Omaha (comprising twenty-three counties of northeast Nebraska). She helps to remind us of our unity with other Archdiocesan parishes, bound together by the shepherd who represents the Lord, the Archbishop of Omaha.
Next, the chamber through the main doors (donated in 2009 in memory of Birdie & Edward Wolfgram) is a narthex. On both sides are holy water fonts (reminders of Baptism).
Then walking through the two glass doors, a person enters into the nave of the Church, and begins a journey through Sacred Scripture & Catholic Tradition. The imagery in the Church helps people to ponder spiritual events & faith heroes (Saints).

The "High Altar" (reredos)

The first thing noticed inside is a beautiful reredos, or "high altar." Attention is easily drawn to it because of its central feature: a shiny Tabernacle (donated by Dr. Brockhaus). That cylinder holds surplus Holy Communion for adoration & emergency requests.
Above the Tabernacle is "IHS." These are the first three letters of the Name of Jesus in Greek, but rendered into Latin script. Also a pelican with her chicks in a nest. This bird is a Medieval symbol of Christ. The ancient belief was that a female pelican would tear-open her breast to feed her young with her own blood to avert their starvation during famine.
Flanking are two angel statues bowed-down, each holding red sanctuary lights. In that pose, they acknowledge the Presence of Christ in the Tabernacle. The panel at the base is the Last Supper (Jesus & His Twelve Apostles), a reminder of the immense gift of the Eucharist every time Holy Mass is celebrated.
The reredos is twenty feet high & is hand-cared of wood-onyx columns. The mensa is marble. At the very top is a statue of St. Leonard, the patron saint of the parish, with two angels with trumpets.
Directly below is an image of Jesus on the Cross with his Mother & St. John, the Beloved Disciple.
The north side statue is St. Boniface, representing the parish's German heritage. The south side statue is St. Patrick, representing the parish's Irish heritage. On their heads they wear the hat which bishops wear: a miter with the two points (symbolizing that they are teachers of the Old & New Testaments). Also they hold in their hands a crosier, which is a bishop’s staff reminding him of his duty to shepherd people.
St. Boniface is credited with bringing Christianity to the Germans. He stands by a tree stump with an axe in it. In order to dispel false beliefs, Boniface approached the giant oak of Geismar, a sacred tree dedicated to the Norse pagan god Thor, with an axe. While chopping, fear gripped the people. Finally achieving a crack, the tree split into four parts, falling to the ground in the shape of a cross. By that display, Boniface proved the power of the true God.
The triple-leaf shamrock held by St. Patrick was his teaching tool to explain to the Irish the Most Holy Trinity. Under his feet are snakes, as tradition says that he drove-out the snakes from Ireland.

The Communion of Saints Mural
Way above is a mural. In the center of it are images of God the Father & God the Son, with the Holy Spirit in the window. They are above an image of the devil in agony.
The saints on the north side are, from outside to center:
St. Wenceslaus of Bohemia, St. Rose of Lima (crown of roses), St. Patrick, St. Catherine of Siena (crown of thorns), St. Martin of Tours, St. Helena (holding the True Cross), St. Longinus (with Spear), Our Lady, St. Joseph the foster father of Jesus, and St. Peter (holding the Keys to the Kingdom).
The saints on the south side are, from center to outside:
St. Paul (holding a sword), St. Jerome, St. John the Baptist, St. Dominic de Guzman (with the Holy Rosary), Sts. Felicity and Perpetua, St. Agnes (holding a lamb), St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Louis, King of France, and St. Lawrence of Brindisi.
There are also ten angels.

The Pulpit

The elevated pulpit is adorned with statuettes of the four Evangelists.
St. Matthew is represented by the winged man. He is called the “divine man,” since he teaches about the human nature of Christ and since his Gospel begins with Jesus’ paternal genealogy.
St. Mark is represented by the winged lion, since he informs us of the royal dignity of Christ and since his Gospel begins: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness…,” suggesting the roar of a lion.
St. Luke is represented by the winged ox, since he deals with the sacrificial aspects of Christ’s life and since his Gospel begins with the temple scene of Zechariah & Gabriel.
St. John is represented by the rising eagle, since his gaze pierces so far into the mysteries of heaven and since his version of the Gospel being with a lofty prologue that is a poem of the Word become flesh.

The Altar Rail

This is hand carved wood with marble top, onyx columns, marble steps in front.

The "Side Altars" & Columns

The two flanking "side altars" are made of the same materials as the "high altar."
The north image of Mary depicts Her as the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of the United States. A lower adjacent image is Her as Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas & of Unborn Children. The panel on the bottom shows the sacrifice of the King & High Priest, Melchizedek, who used bread & wine (Genesis 14:17-24).
Then going upward are images of the Lord, Jesus, as Divine Mercy & the Most Sacred Heart.
The south image is St. Joseph. The panel on the bottom there shows Abraham, Isaac & an intervening angel (Genesis 22:1-19).  The two bottom panels on each side are scenes from the Old Testament which prefigure the sacrifice of Christ.
Going upward is an image of St. Anthony of Padua, a popular Franciscan priest.
The fourteen columns of the church are plastered wooden shafts. They are adorned with Corinthian capitals decorated with acanthus leaves and gold trim.


There are sixty-six windows in the Church. The principal stained glass windows are thirteen feet tall & five feet wide.

North side windows:
1.                                The Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38)
2.                                The Nativity (Matthew 1:18-25)
3.                                The Presentation (Luke 2:22-38)
4.                                The Finding of Jesus in Temple (Luke 2:41-52)
5.                                The Baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17)
6.                                Jesus and money collectors (John 2:13-25)
7.                                Jesus blesses little children (Luke 18:15-17)

South side windows:

1.                                St. Mary Magdalene washing the feet of Our Lord (Mark 14:3-9)
2.                                Christ and rich young man (Matthew 19:16-22)
3.                                The Agony in the Garden (Luke 39-46)
4.                                The Resurrection (Mark 16:1-8)
5.                                St. Peter gets the keys to heaven (Matthew 16:13-20)
6.                                The Ascension (Acts 1:6-11)
7.                                The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Revelation 12:1-2)

In the north room (originally the Baptistry) the windows are of St. Ursula, the patroness of girls and St. Aloysius Gonzaga, the patron of boys.
St. Ursula: Princess and daughter of a Christian British king. She travelled Europe in company of eleven fellow maidens. Ursula and her company were tortured to death to get them to renounce their faith, and old paintings of them show many of the women being killed in various painful ways. Namesake for the Ursuline Order, founded for the education of young Catholic girls and women.           
St. Aloysius Gonzaga: Italian noble. He was trained from age four as a soldier and courtier. He suffered from kidney disease, which he considered a blessing as it left him bed-ridden with time for prayer. While still a boy himself, he taught catechism to poor boys. He received his First Communion from Saint Charles Borromeo.  At age eighteen, Aloysius signed away his legal claim to his family’s lands and title to his brother, and became a Jesuit novice. Spiritual student of Saint Robert Bellarmine. Tended plague victims in Rome, Italy in the outbreak of 1591 during which he caught the disease that killed him at age twenty-three.
In the confessional are depicted St. Boniface & St. Patrick.
South room

St. Ann with Our Lady as a child, the mother of Mary, grandmother of Jesus Christ, wife of Saint Joachim.
St. Elizabeth, Descendant of the Old Testament patriarch, Aaron, Wife of Zachary, temple priest. Relative of Mary, Mother of Saint John the Baptist, becoming pregnant very late in life. She was the Elizabeth that Our Lady visited soon after the Annunciation. Described in the Gospel of Luke as “righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.”
St. Zita, Born to a very poor but pious family. At age twelve she became a domestic servant for the wealthy Fainelli family in Lucca, Italy, a position she kept all her life; she looked at it as a way to serve God. She often gave her own food, and sometimes that of her master, to those poorer than herself, which caused her to get in frequent trouble with her employers and the other servants in the house who resented her. However she did such a fine job she was eventually placed in charge of the house, and entrusted with its keys. Her reputation was such that Dante in the inferno referred to the city of Lucca as “Santa Zita”.
The saint in armor is unknown. He could easily be St. Wenceslaus, St. Alexander, St. Stanislaus of Krakow or several others.

St. Cecilia, Patroness of Music & the Archdiocese of Omaha. Cultivated, young patrician woman whose ancestors loomed large in Rome’s history. She vowed her virginity to God, but her parents married her to Valerian of Trastevere. Cecilia told her new husband that she was accompanied by an angel, but in order to see it, he must be purified. He agreed to the purification, and was baptized; returning from the ceremony, he found her in prayer accompanied by a praying angel. The Angel placed a crown on each of their heads, and offered Valerian a favor; the new convert asked that his brother be baptized. The two brothers developed a ministry of giving proper burial to martyred Christians. In their turn they were arrested and martyred for their faith. Cecilia buried them at her villa on the Appian Way, and was arrested for the action. She was ordered to sacrifice to false gods; when she refused, she was martyred in her turn. The Acta of Cecilia includes the following: “While the profane music of her wedding was heard, Cecilia was singing in her heart a hymn of love for Jesus, her true spouse.” It was this phrase that led to her association with music, singers, musicians, etc.
St. Hilary of Poitiers, Born to wealthy polytheistic, pagan nobility, Hilary’s early life was uneventful as he married, had children (including Saint Abra), and studied on his own. Through his studies he came to believe in salvation through good works, then monotheism. As he studied the Bible for the first time, he literally read himself into the faith, and was converted by the end of the New Testament. Hilary lived the faith, so well he was made bishop of Poitiers from 353 to 368. Hilary opposed the emperor’s attempt to run Church matters, and was exiled; he used the time to write works explaining the faith. His teaching and writings converted many, and in an attempt to reduce his notoriety he was returned to the small town of Poitiers where his enemies hoped he would fade into obscurity.
St. Lawrence One of the deacons of the Roman Church, was one of the victims of the persecution of Valerian in 258, like Pope Sixtus II and many other members of the Roman clergy.

If you look at the ceiling you will see Frescos paintings on the side walls. They are:

The Lamb of God and the Seven Seals
The Ten Commandments
An Angel
An Angel with “Gloria in Excelsis”
The Sacrament of Holy Orders
The Holy Veil of St. Veronica

The Statue of Saint Therese of Lisieux
St. Therese defined her path to God and holiness as The Little Way, which consisted of child-like love and trust in God. She had an on-going correspondence with Carmelite missionaries in China, often stating how much she wanted to travel to work with them. Many miracles are attributed to her. She is the patron saint of missions (along with St. Francis Xavier).

The Choir Loft

In the Choir loft there are 6 more stained glass windows. Three of which are visible from the loft:

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (south west)
Three Angels (South)
The Immaculate Heart of Mary (north west)

Behind the organ are three more.
            The pipe organ was built in 1879 by Hinners Organ and is not original to St. Leonard’s. It is a tracker organ and is used regularly.

The Bell Tower

The tower is one hundred and ten feet high. It contains a clock and three bells weighing nine hundred, sixteen hundred, and twenty-five hundred pounds. The bell tower has a copper dome and a steeple. The clock faces are six feet in diameter and made of milk glass and iron.

A Little History

This was a missionary parish for thirty years. It was named for St. Leonard Church because St. Leonard of Port Maurice was a Franciscan and the patron saint of parish missions. Franciscan missionaries from Columbus, NE were in charge of the Madison Catholic community from 1880 until 1910.
Catholics arrived in the Madison area about 1875. Services were held in the homes of Catholics at first. In 1879 they decided to build a church. The frame of the first church was completed in 1881, it was later enlarged. It was located north of the cemetery. The cemetery was plotted in 1882. In 1898 land was purchased inside the town of Madison and the Church was moved to the present location and another room added. In 1902 the parish purchased more lots and in July of 1902 the basement of the new church was excavated.
            On February 17, 1903, a basement church was completed. The walls are limestone rock. The size of it was one hundred feet by fifty-two feet. It cost $8,000.00 and the parish ran out of money so they put a roof on the basement and used it for a decade as the church. The old church was used as a school. The interior of the basement church was Gothic architecture.
In 1910, the  Franciscans left Columbus and the parish transferred to the care of the Diocese of Omaha. Fr. Edward Muenich was assigned to the Madison Church in October 1910. In March of 1911, construction of the rectory began. it was completed that year at the cost of $10,374.00. On Easter Monday, 1912, the basement was enlarged by adding fifty-three and a half feet to the east end.
            On May 8, 1913, the cornerstone of Vermont marble was lad. On May 26, 1913, construction of the upper church started. Services were held in the town Armory during construction. On November 30, 1913, the building was complete. The solemn dedication was on December 4, 1913. The total cost was around $75,000.00. (The centenary was celebrated on Dec. 1, 2013, with Omaha Archbishop Emeritus Elden F. Curtiss present.)