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St. Leonhard
Leonhardi Ride in Bad Tölz - an extraordinary Upper Bavarian

Leonhard of Limoges (559 AD), whose saint's day is on the 6th of November, was born into Franconian nobility and lived at the court of the Merovingians, Franconia's oldest known royal family. One of Europe's most revered saints, he is known above all as the patron saint of cattle and horses.
St. Leonhard is one of the most venerated saints in the Alpine region. Once known as the "God of farmers", today he is honoured as the protector of all those working the land and patron saint of horses and farm animals. Because of his pious life and the many miracles that resulted from invoking his assistance after his death, St. Leonhard became a favourite and sought-after helper in times of need. Since the 13th century, St. Leonhard has been portrayed as a Benedictine abbot carrying a book, a staff and a chain, which symbolises the freeing of prisoners brought about by the saint.
In Germany, St. Leonhard has been venerated most extensively since the 11th century. To this day, there are over 50 Leonhardi pilgrimages, most of them horse rides. The oldest documented Leonhardi ride (1442) sets off from Kreuth, where women and girls put on their best traditional costumes and expensive family jewellery in honour of this patron saint of farm animals. The men deck out their horses with gleaming harnesses and adorn them with flowers and ribbons, before hitching them to the ornately painted carts used in the procession. Once underway, the horses' countless hoofs clatter to a wild rhythm, as the faithful on the carts quietly pray for the Saint's protection. This religious extravaganza, accompanied by ringing bells and church services, and featuring traditional costume associations and brass bands, is a spectacle not to be missed.
The best known Leonhardi ride takes place on the 6th of November in Bad Tölz. Here, the horses have been taking to the streets since 1855, fully harnessed and all spruced up from head to tail, as tradition demands. However, only the men are allowed on horseback. Ladies have to travel in the carts, which are pulled by teams of four horses and decked out with flowers and garlands. Everyone gets to wear traditional costumes, of course. These outfits are as much a part of the ride as the priest's blessing and the trip to the inn at the end of it all. The Bad Tölz Leonhardi Ride probably ranks among one of the largest, with around 80 carts drawn by teams of four horses, more than 100 riders on horseback and almost 30,000 spectators.



A8, A95, B13, train station