According to an 11th-century vita, Leonard was a Frankish noble in the court of Clovis . He was converted to Christianity along with the king, at Christmas 496, by Saint Remigius, Bishop of Reims. Leonard asked Clovis to grant him personally the right to liberate prisoners whom he would find worthy of it, at any time. Leonard secured the release of a number of prisoners, for whom he has become a patron saint, then, declining the offer of a bishopric he entered the monastery at Micy near Orléans, under the direction of Saint Mesmin and Saint Lie.
Then, Leonard became a hermit in the forest of Limousin, where he gathered a number of followers. Through his prayers the queen of the Franks was safely delivered of a male child and in recompense Leonard was given royal lands at Noblac. There he founded the abbey of Noblac, around which a village grew-Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat. Prisoners who invoked him from their cells saw their chains break before their eyes. Many came to him afterwards, bringing their heavy chains and irons to offer them in homage and many remained with him. He gave them part of his vast forest, that they might have the means to live an honest life.