September 21, 2010

Ezechiele Leandro, Santuario della Pazienza/Sanctuary of Patience



Ezechiele Leandro (1905-1981) transformed his house in San Cesario di Lecce, Italy, into a museum where he exposed his paintings and small sculptures. The garden outside, named the Sanctuary of Patience, became a sculpture garden with a vast collection of large sculptures, 

Life and works

Leandro was born in Lequile, Italy. An abandoned baby, he was united with his father at the age of eleven. As a young man, in his mid twenties, he had artistic aspirations, focussed upon making sculptures, but I did not come along any information saying that  he followed lessons at an art school.

He married in 1933 and in the same year, to earn a living,  he went to Africa, where he had a job as a miner. During his stay in Africa he became acquainted with the local way of transforming and coloring indigenous materials into art works.

Aftere a stay of some years in Africa, he lived for some time in Germany and then was enlisted in the Italian army.

After World War II Leandro had various jobs, but he finally settled himself as the operator of a bicycle shop in the community of San Cesario di Lecce. He bought a plot of land along the Via Gerundolo where he builded the house that in later years would become the museum.


In 1957 at the age of fifty two Leandro began making paintings, which earned him some reputation. He also was active in writing prose and poetry.

In the 1960's, so when he was in his late fifties, Leandro began decorating the garden, embellishing its walls and making a large number of sculptures by applying concrete to iron frames and decorating the surface with mosaics made from pieces of glass, pottery and recycled material, that he collected when cycling around in the community.


Some neighbours vehemently opposed the realization of the sculpture garden and asked the local authorities to tremove it, an action without any result, although Leandro had to fortify the wall around the garden to protect his creation from unfriendly treatment by his fellow citizens. 

In october 1975 the Sanctuary was officially opened. The house became a museum, that could be visited by the public.

Ezechiele Leandro died in 1981 (His wife had passed away in 1970; the couple had a number of children, who became the heirs). 

picture by unknown photographer taken on an 
unknown date as published on ilecce.it (july 2016)
(site no longer available)

The site is still extant, but in decay

Currently the sculpture garden is still extant. Untill around 2013 actions to interest the authorities in taking measures to save it for the future failed and the sculptures, unprotected to the influences of the wheather, were left to their fate. The Museo could no longer be visited.

However, in 2013 a local group of friends of Leandro's oeuvre organised a petition, asking relevant Italian authorities  to take better care of the site.

Expositions 2014 and 2016

Probably as a result of the activities of this group of friends, the city of Cesario di Lecce commisioned a retrospective exhibition featuring Leandro and his creations, hold from febr 28 - March 16, 2014 in the local Palazzo Ducal.

Curators Lorenzo Madaro and Luigi Negro hope to rejoin the artist with his fellow citizens and strengthen a relationship that too often was misunderstood and difficult.

In the summer of 2016 a new retrospectve was organized under the auspices of local and regional authorities and organizations in the field of art, including the provincial museum Sigismondo Castromediano (Lesse), the Rizomi Art Brut Gallery (Turin) and the Osservatorio Outsdier Art (Palermo).

A first step towards saving the art environment (2014)

April 2014 the superintendant of the artistic heritage in Puglia declared that it is no longer allowed to remove art works from Leandro's Santuario without formal permission of the relevant Italian authorities, which can be seen as a first step towards saving the site for the future.

* Lorenzo Madaro, "Ezechiele Leandro e il santuario dell'arte 'sosteibile'", in: Rivista dell'Osservatoria Outsider Art, no 5 (oct 2012)
* Helen Marsala, "Ezechiele Leandro e il Santuario della Pazienza. Storia di une vocazione, tra il margine e l'abbandono" (Ezechiele Leandro and the Sanctuary of Patience. The story of a vocation, between margin and abandonment), website Artribune, 2 nov 2013
* Article on website Costruttori di Babele
* Clip from a tv broadcast in the 1970's (13'57, uploaded nov 2010, Youtube)


* Video by Telerama (14'59", Youtube, uploaded dec 2014)



first published sept 2010, revised nov 2012, feb, apr, dec 2014, jul 2016 

Ezechiele Leandro
Santuario dell Pazienza
Via Gerundolo, 26
San Cesario di Lecce, Lecce, Puglia, Italy
closed for the public 
streetview

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