House of St. Leon of Peraleda (Brother Leon of St Joseph)

Tourism Index

cambia a español  Español


Fray LeónLeon Gomez Garcia was born in this house on septembre 22nd, 1708 and was destined to become our most distinguished and international citizen. He was born and raised in a pious family. Since he was a child, he got used to the visits of friars coming to Peraleda both from Belvis (Franciscans) and Jarandilla (Agustinians) and so his religious vocation was awakened. This, together with his passionate and adventurous spirit, led him to the firm resolution of becoming a missionary in distant lands.

He joined the Agustinians as a novice, probably in the near village of Jarandilla, and then moved to Madrid, where he took his vows at the age of 22. But his dreams were taking him far beyond these lands and, as soon as he could, he embarked to the Philippines and arrived in Manila when he was 26.

His many virtues and his intensity impressed the prior of the convent in Manila. Brother Leon wanted to improve his Tagalog (the language of the Philippines) so asked to be sent to the island of Mindoro, to the convent of Calavite. When he was well prepared, he was entrusted with the administration and visitation of the little villages and hamlets in the area administered by the town of Calavite.

The chronicles of the time explain that he not only cared for spreading the Catholic faith, but also worked hard to grow in that faith himself. He cultivated humility by taking up the humblest occupations among the natives and helping them in their tasks, being one of them, ever so friendly and approachable, so he was soon loved by everyone.

On October 23rd, 1739, at one o’clock in the morning, brother Leon was fast asleep in the parish of Ililin -present Iriron- when the watcher’s horn woke everybody up. The Muslim pirates were attacking the little village once again. Those pirates liked to profane the consecrated hosts for the pleasure of scandalizing the Christian population. So while everybody was running for their lives, Brother Leon knew exactly what to do. He ran to the church to save the hosts from profanation… and succeeded, but on doing so he also let himself be captured by the pirates, who took him aboard their ship with the intention of asking for a high ransom in exchange of him.

So he is 30 years old when the Tiron Moors took him in captivity to Lean Island, the place where he spent one year in force labour. Other priests and monks captured at the time were also taken to little islands awaiting a handsome ransom for them. But according to the eye-witness, Brother Leon, even in captivity, never ceased in his endeavours to evangelize and save souls, even those of his captors. It was this irrepressible endeavour for evangelizing what infuriated them to the point of tormenting him horribly and mutilating him brutally while he was still alive before throwing his body to the sea, just as the Philippine chronicles report:

After having him naked in the hills for a very long time occupied in the tough job of peeling off palay seeds, they took his life amid the most horrible torments. He was tied to a pole and surrounded by many armed Moors, they all wounded him little by little, so his death should be all the most felt and painful. After each one of them had passed by hurting him in different parts of his body, they cut off his arms, legs, nose and ears, and then threw his body to the sea. These news, reported by some Jolano natives, were also confirmed by several other Indians who managed to escape captivity, all of whom, though differing in some small details, agreed in the essentials, and all in one voice praised the courage and strength this religious man showed when preaching the faith in Jesus up to the very moment when he gave up his spirit.

On September 2nd, 1740, the Moorish Sultan receives at last a delegation from the government willing to negotiate the liberation of Brother Leon, but it was already too late. It was 5 months later, on February 4th, 1741, when the Council of La Mata (of which Peraleda was part) received official news of its citizen’s martyrdom.

Over time, the villages from the old Council of La Mata forgot their martyr, but not the Augustinians in Philippines, who travelled to Peraleda to pay homage to our distinguished citizen, presenting our parish with a silver chalice as a token of gratitude for the Peraledan blood spilled to help the poor back there.

You can see his page in the Spanish Wikipedia.




Escrito por Angel Castaño

Apóyanos con tu firma para salvar el Dolmen de Guadalperal y también para salvar el retablo esgrafiado de Peraleda.

© Proyecto Raíces de Peralêda, 2017 (Peraleda de la Mata, Cáceres, España) - Privacidad y Cookies-ContactoDonate with PayPal
Navegando por este portal, usted acepta nuestra Política de Cookies.