Pope Leo I

Pope Leo I (c. 400 – 10 November 461), also known as Saint Leo the Great, was Pope from 29 September 440 and died in 461. Pope Benedict XVI said that Leo's papacy "...was undoubtedly one of the most important in the Church's history."[1]

He was a Roman aristocrat, and was the first pope to have been called "the Great". He is perhaps best known for having met Attila the Hun in 452 and persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy. He is also a Doctor of the Church, most remembered theologically for issuing the Tome of Leo, a document which was a major foundation to the debates of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon. The Council of Chalcedon, the fourth ecumenical council, dealt primarily with Christology, and elucidated the orthodox definition of Christ's being as the hypostatic union of two natures, divine and human, united in one person, "with neither confusion nor division". It was followed by a major schism associated with Monophysitism, Miaphysitism and Dyophysitism.[2]

Pope Saint

Leo I
Herrera mozo San León magno Lienzo. Óvalo. 164 x 105 cm. Museo del Prado
Saint Leo Magnus (17th century) by Francisco Herrera the Younger, in the Prado Museum, Madrid.
Papacy began29 September 440
Papacy ended10 November 461
PredecessorSixtus III
Personal details
Birth nameLeo
Bornc. 400 AD
Tuscany, Western Roman Empire
Died10 November 461
Rome, Western Roman Empire
Feast day
  • 10 November
  • 11 April (pre-1969 calendar)
  • 18 February (Eastern Orthodoxy)
Venerated in
Other popes named Leo

Early life

According to the Liber Pontificalis, he was a native of Tuscany. By 431, as a deacon, he was sufficiently well known outside of Rome that John Cassian dedicated to him the treatise against Nestorius written at Leo's suggestion. About this time Cyril of Alexandria appealed to Rome regarding a jurisdictional dispute with Juvenal of Jerusalem, but it is not entirely clear whether the letter was intended for Leo, in his capacity of archdeacon,[3] or for Pope Celestine I directly. Near the end of the reign of Pope Sixtus III, Leo was dispatched at the request of Emperor Valentinian III to settle a dispute between Aëtius, one of Gaul's chief military commanders, and the chief magistrate Caecina Decius Aginatius Albinus. Johann Peter Kirsch sees this commission as a proof of the confidence placed in the able deacon by the Imperial Court.[4]


During his absence in Gaul, Pope Sixtus III died (11 August 440), and on 29 September Leo was unanimously elected by the people to succeed him.[4]

Soon after assuming the papal throne Leo learned that in Aquileia, Pelagians were received into church communion without formal repudiation of their errors; he censured this practice and directed that a provincial synod be held where such former Pelagians be required make an unequivocal abjuration.[4]

Manichaeans fleeing the Vandals had come to Rome in 439 and secretly organized there; Leo learned of it around 443, and proceeded against them by holding a public debate with their representatives, burning their books[5] and writing letters of warning to the Italian bishops.

His attitude was as decided against the Priscillianists. Bishop Turibius of Astorga, astonished at the spread of the sect in Spain, had addressed the other Spanish bishops on the subject, sending a copy of his letter to Leo, who took the opportunity to write an extended treatise (21 July 447) against the sect, examining its false teaching in detail and calling for a Spanish general council to investigate whether it had any adherents in the episcopate.[5]

From a pastoral perspective he galvanized charitable works in a Rome beset by famines, an influx of refugees, and poverty. He further associated the practice of fasting with charity and almsgiving particularly on the occasion of the Quattro tempora, (the quarterly Ember days).[3]

Papal Authority

Papal styles of
Pope Leo I
Emblem of the Papacy SE
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleSaint

Leo drew many learned men about him and chose Prosper of Aquitaine to act in some secretarial or notarial capacity.[3] Leo was a significant contributor to the centralisation of spiritual authority within the Church and in reaffirming papal authority. The bishop of Rome had gradually become viewed as the chief patriarch in the Western church.

Various regional matters

On several occasions Leo was asked to arbitrate disputes in Gaul. Patroclus of Arles (d. 426) had received from Pope Zosimus the recognition of a subordinate primacy over the Gallican Church which was strongly asserted by his successor Hilary of Arles. An appeal from Chelidonius of Besançon gave Leo the opportunity to assert the pope's authority over Hilary, who defended himself stoutly at Rome, refusing to recognize Leo's judicial status. Feeling that the primatial rights of the bishop of Rome were threatened, Leo appealed to the civil power for support and obtained, from Valentinian III, a decree of 6 June 445, which recognized the primacy of the bishop of Rome based on the merits of Peter, the dignity of the city, and the legislation of the First Council of Nicaea; and provided for the forcible extradition by provincial governors of any bishop who refused to answer a summons to Rome.[6] Faced with this decree, Hilary submitted to the pope, although under his successor, Ravennius, Leo divided the metropolitan rights between Arles and Vienne (450).

Priest celebrating Mass at Altar of Leo I in St. Peter's Basilica
Priest celebrating Mass at the Altar of Leo the Great in St. Peter's Basilica

In 445, Leo disputed with Patriarch Dioscorus, St Cyril's successor as Patriarch of Alexandria, insisting that the ecclesiastical practice of his see should follow that of Rome on the basis that Mark the Evangelist, the disciple of St Peter and the founder of the Alexandrian Church, could have had no other tradition than that of the prince of the apostles.

The fact that the African province of Mauretania Caesariensis had been preserved to the empire and thus to the Nicene faith during the Vandal invasion and, in its isolation, was disposed to rest on outside support, gave Leo an opportunity to assert his authority there. In 446 he wrote to the Church in Mauretania in regard to a number of questions of discipline, stressing the point that laymen were not to be appointed to the episcopate.[5]

In a letter to the bishops of Campania, Picenum, and Tuscany (443) he required the observance of all his precepts and those of his predecessors; and he sharply rebuked the bishops of Sicily (447) for their deviation from the Roman custom as to the time of baptism, requiring them to send delegates to the Roman synod to learn the proper practice.

Because of the earlier line of division between the western and eastern parts of the Roman Empire, Illyria was ecclesiastically subject to Rome. Pope Innocent I had constituted the metropolitan of Thessalonica his vicar, in order to oppose the growing influence of the patriarch of Constantinople in the area. In a letter of about 446 to a successor bishop of Thessalonica, Anastasius, Leo reproached him for the way he had treated one of the metropolitan bishops subject to him; after giving various instructions about the functions entrusted to Anastasius and stressing that certain powers were reserved to the pope himself, Leo wrote: "The care of the universal Church should converge towards Peter's one seat, and nothing anywhere should be separated from its Head."[7]

He succeeded in having an imperial patriarch, and not the Oriental Orthodox Pope Timotheus Aelurus, chosen as Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria on the murder of Greek Patriarch Proterius of Alexandria.


Leo - Sermones, adi XXI di maggio MCCCCLXXXV - 2397763 S

Almost 100 sermons and 150 letters of Leo I have been preserved.

The Tome

At the Second Council of Ephesus in 449, Leo's representatives delivered his famous Tome, a statement of the faith of the Roman Church in the form of a letter addressed to Archbishop Flavian of Constantinople, which repeats, in close adherence to Augustine of Hippo, the formulas of western Christology. The council did not read the letter nor did it pay any attention to the protests of Leo's legates but deposed Flavian and Eusebius of Dorylaeum, who appealed to Rome. That is one reason that the council was never recognized as ecumenical and was later repudiated by the Council of Chalcedon.

It was presented again at the subsequent Council of Chalcedon as offering a solution to the Christological controversies still raging between East and West.

Council of Chalcedon

Eutyches, in the beginning of the conflict appealed to Leo and took refuge with him on his condemnation by Flavian, but on receiving full information from Flavian, Leo took his side decisively. Leo demanded of the emperor that an ecumenical council should be held in Italy, and in the meantime, at a Roman synod in October 449, repudiated all the decisions of the "Robber Synod". In his letters to the emperor and others he demanded the deposition of Eutyches as a Manichaean and Docetic heretic.

The Council of Chalcedon of 451 rejected the heresy of Eutyches who denied the true human nature of the Son of God, and affirmed the union in his one Person, without confusion and without separation, of his two natures, human and divine.

The acts of the council report: "After the reading of the foregoing epistle, the most reverend bishops cried out: This is the faith of the fathers, this is the faith of the Apostles. So we all believe, thus the orthodox believe. Anathema to him who does not thus believe. Peter has spoken thus through Leo. So taught the Apostles. Piously and truly did Leo teach, so taught Cyril. Everlasting be the memory of Cyril. Leo and Cyril taught the same thing, anathema to him who does not so believe. This is the true faith. Those of us who are orthodox thus believe. This is the faith of the fathers. Why were not these things read at Ephesus? These are the things Dioscorus hid away."[8][9][10]

Leo firmly declined to confirm their disciplinary arrangements, which seemed to allow Constantinople a practically equal authority with Rome and regarded the civil importance of a city as a determining factor in its ecclesiastical position; but he strongly supported its dogmatic decrees, especially when, after the accession of Leo I the Thracian (457), there seemed to be a disposition toward compromise with the Eutychians.

Teaching on Christ

Leo's writings (both the sermons and the letters) are mostly concerned with theological questions concerning the person of Jesus Christ (Christology) and his role as mediator and savior (Soteriology), which is partially connected to the Council of Chalcedon in which Roman legates participated in Leo's name. Subsequently, through numerous letters addressed to bishops and members of the imperial family, Leo incessantly worked for the propagation and universal reception of the faith in Christ as defined by Chalcedon, also in the eastern part of the Roman empire. Leo defends the true divinity and the true humanity of the one Christ against heretical one-sidedness. He takes up this topic also in many of his sermons, and over the years, he further develops his own original concepts. A central idea around which Leo deepens and explains his theology is Christ's presence in the Church, more specifically in the teaching and preaching of the faith (Scripture, Tradition and their interpretation), in the liturgy (sacraments and celebrations), in the life of the individual believer and of the organized Church, especially in a council.

To Leo the Great, Mariology is determined by Christology. If Christ were divine only, everything about him would be divine. Only his divinity would have been crucified, buried and resurrected. Mary would only be the mother of God, and Christians would have no hope for their own resurrection. The nucleus of Christianity would be destroyed.[11] The most unusual beginning of a truly human life through her was to give birth to Jesus, the Lord and Son of King David.[12]

Heir of Peter

Leo assumed the papacy at a time of increasing barbarian invasions; this, coupled with the decreasing imperial authority in the West, forced the Bishop of Rome to take a more active part in civic and political affairs. He was one of the first bishops of Rome to promote papal primacy based on succession from St. Peter; and he did so as a means of maintaining unity among the churches.[13]

Besides recourse to biblical language, Leo also described his own special relationship with St Peter in terms derived from Roman law. He called himself the (unworthy) heir and deputy (vicarius) of Peter, having received his apostolic authority and being obliged to follow his example. On the one hand, Peter stood before him with a claim on how Leo is to exercise his office; on the other hand, Leo, as the Roman bishop, represented the Apostle, whose authority he held. Christ, however, always comes out as the source of all grace and authority, and Leo is responsible to him for how he fulfilled his duties (sermon 1). Thus, the office of the Roman bishop, was grounded on the special relationship between Christ and St Peter, a relationship that cannot be repeated per se; therefore, Leo depended on St Peter's mediation, his assistance and his example in order to be able to adequately fulfill his role and exercise his authority as the Bishop of Rome, both in the city and beyond.

Leo and Attila

Raphael's The Meeting between Leo the Great and Attila depicts Leo, escorted by Saint Peter and Saint Paul, meeting with the Hun king outside Rome.

Despite his defeat at the Battle of Chalons in 451, Attila invaded Italy in 452, sacking cities such as Aquileia and heading for Rome. He allegedly demanded that the sister of the reigning Emperor Valentinian III be sent to him with a dowry. In response, the emperor sent three envoys to negotiate with Attila: Gennadius Avienus, one of the consuls of 450, Memmius Aemilius Trygetius, the former urban prefect, and Leo. Little is known of the specifics of the negotiations, as a result of which Attila withdrew. Most ancient and medieval historians celebrated Leo's actions, giving him all the credit for this successful embassy. According to Prosper of Aquitaine who was alive at the time of the event, Attila was so impressed by Leo that he withdrew.[14] Another near-contemporary was the historian Priscus who records that Attila was dissuaded from attacking Rome by his own men because they feared he would share the fate of the Visigothic king Alaric, who died shortly after sacking the city in 410.[15] Paul the Deacon, in the late 8th century, relates that an enormously huge man dressed in priestly robes and armed with a sword, visible only to Attila, threatened him and his army with death during his discourse with Leo, and this prompted Attila to submit to his request.[16]

More modern historians debate other possible reasons for Attila's sudden withdrawal. The pope may have offered Attila a large sum of gold or Attila may have had logistical and strategic concerns: an army probably laden with booty from plunder; a plague in northern Italy; food shortages; military actions of the Eastern Emperor Marcianus on the Danube frontier. Besides, the whereabouts of Aëtius at that time are unknown, and Attila or his warriors may have felt endangered by their arch-enemy from the Catalaunian plains.

Writing in the early 20th century, John B. Bury remarked:

The fact of the embassy cannot be doubted. The distinguished ambassadors visited the Hun's camp near the south shore of Lake Garda. It is also certain that Attila suddenly retreated. But we are at a loss to know what considerations were offered him to induce him to depart. It is unreasonable to suppose that this heathen king would have cared for the thunders or persuasions of the Church. The Emperor refused to surrender Honoria, and it is not recorded that money was paid. A trustworthy chronicle hands down another account which does not conflict with the fact that an embassy was sent, but evidently furnishes the true reasons which moved Attila to receive it favourably. Plague broke out in the barbarian host and their food ran short, and at the same time troops arrived from the east, sent by Marcian to the aid of Italy. If his host was suffering from pestilence, and if troops arrived from the east, we can understand that Attila was forced to withdraw. But whatever terms were arranged, he did not pretend that they meant a permanent peace. The question of Honoria was left unsettled, and he threatened that he would come again and do worse things in Italy unless she were given up with the due portion of the Imperial possessions.[17]

Leo's intercession could not prevent the sack of the city by the Vandal King Genseric in 455, but murder and arson were repressed by his influence. The Pope and members of his clergy, went to meet the invader to implore him to desist. While the Vandals plundered the city, the gesture nevertheless prevented Rome from being burned and assured that the Basilicas of St Peter, St Paul and St John, in which part of the terrified population sought refuge, were spared.

Leo did, however, assist in rebuilding the city of Rome; restoring key places such as Saint Peter's.[18]

On the fundamental dignity of Christians

In his In Nativitate Domini, Christmas Day, sermon, "Christian, remember your dignity", Leo articulates a fundamental dignity common to all Christians, whether saints or sinners, and the consequent obligation to live up to it:

Our Saviour, dearly-beloved, was born today: let us be glad. For there is no proper place for sadness, when we keep the birthday of the Life, which destroys the fear of mortality and brings to us the joy of promised eternity. No one is kept from sharing in this happiness. There is for all one common measure of joy, because as our Lord the destroyer of sin and death finds none free from charge, so is He come to free us all. Let the saint exult in that he draws near to victory. Let the sinner be glad in that he is invited to pardon. Let the gentile take courage in that he is called to life...

Let us put off then the old man with his deeds: and having obtained a share in the birth of Christ let us renounce the works of the flesh. Christian, acknowledge thy dignity, and becoming a partner in the Divine nature, refuse to return to the old baseness by degenerate conduct. Remember the Head and the Body of which thou art a member. Recollect that thou wert rescued from the power of darkness and brought out into God’s light and kingdom. By the mystery of Baptism thou wert made the temple of the Holy Ghost: do not put such a denizen to flight from thee by base acts, and subject thyself once more to the devil’s thraldom: because thy purchase money is the blood of Christ, because He shall judge thee in truth Who ransomed thee in mercy, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit reigns for ever and ever. Amen.[19]

Death and burial

Leo died on 10 November 461 and, as he wished to be buried as close as possible to the tomb of St Peter, his body was placed in a tomb in the portico of Saint Peter's basilica. In 688 his remains were moved inside the basilica itself.


Pope Benedict XVI said that Leo's papacy "...was undoubtedly one of the most important in the Church's history."[1]

The significance of Leo's pontificate lies in his assertion of the universal jurisdiction of the Roman bishop, as expressed in his letters, and still more in his 96 extant orations. This assertion is commonly referred to as the doctrine of Petrine supremacy.

According to Leo and several Church Fathers as well as certain interpretations of the Scriptures, the Church is built upon Peter, in pursuance of the promise of Matthew 16:16–19. Peter participates in everything which is Christ's; what the other apostles have in common with him they have through him. What is true of Peter is true also of his successors. Every other bishop is charged with the care of his particular flock, the Roman pontiff with that of the whole Church. Other bishops are his assistants in this great task. In Leo's eyes the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon acquired their validity from his confirmation.

Leo's letters and sermons reflect the many aspects of his career and personality and are invaluable historical sources. His rhythmic prose style, called cursus leonicus, influenced ecclesiastical language for centuries.

In 1754 Pope Benedict XIV proclaimed Leo I a Doctor of the Church.[1] [20]

The Catholic Church marks 10 November as the feast day of Saint Leo, given in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum and the 8th-century Calendar of Saint Willibrord as the date of his death and entry to heaven. His feast was once celebrated in Rome on 28 June, the anniversary of the placing of his relics in Saint Peter's Basilica, but in the 12th century, the Gallican Rite feast of 11 April was admitted to the General Roman Calendar, which maintained that date until 1969.[21] Some traditionalist Catholics continue to observe pre-1970 versions of that calendar.

The Eastern Catholic Churches as well as the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrate Saint Leo on 18 February.


Troparion (Tone 3)

You were the Church's instrument
in strengthening the teaching of true doctrine;
you shone forth from the West like a sun dispelling the errors of the heretics.
Righteous Leo, entreat Christ God to grant us His great mercy.

Troparion (Tone 8)

O Champion of Orthodoxy, and teacher of holiness,
The enlightenment of the universe and the inspired glory of true believers.
O most wise Father Leo, your teachings are as music of the Holy Spirit for us!
Pray that Christ our God may save our souls!

Kontakion (Tone 3)

Seated upon the throne of the priesthood, glorious Leo,
you shut the mouths of the spiritual lions.
With divinely inspired teachings of the honored Trinity,
you shed the light of the knowledge of God up-on your flock.
Therefore, you are glorified as a divine initiate of the grace of God.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Pope Benedict XVI, "Saint Leo the Great", General Audience, 5 March 2008, Libreria Editrice Vaticana
  2. ^ Davis, SJ, Leo Donald (1990). The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325–787): Their History and Theology (Theology and Life Series 21). Collegeville, MN: Michael Glazier/Liturgical Press. p. 342. ISBN 978-0-8146-5616-7.
  3. ^ a b c Butler, Alban. "St. Leo the Great, Pope", Butler's Lives of the Saints, vol. IV, 1866
  4. ^ a b c Kirsch, Johann Peter. "Pope St. Leo I (the Great)." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 30 September 2017
  5. ^ a b c Lives of the Saints, John J. Crawley & Co., Inc.
  6. ^ Henry Bettenson, Chris Maunder, Documents of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press 2011 ISBN 9780199568987), p. 24
  7. ^ Letter XIV, Leo to Anastasius, (Charles Lett Feltoe, tr.), Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 12. Edited by (Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, eds.) Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1895
  8. ^ Acts of the Council, Session II (continued)
  9. ^ Gillian Rosemary Evans, The First Christian Theologians (Wiley, John and Sons 2004 ISBN 978-0-631-23188-2), p. 246
  10. ^ Extract from the Acts of the Council
  11. ^ PL 54, 221, C 226
  12. ^ Sermons, 9, PL54, 227, CF, and 205 BC
  13. ^ "Pope: Leo the Great Defended the Primacy of Rome", Zenit, March 5, 2008
  14. ^ Medieval Sourcebook: Leo I and Attila
  15. ^ John Given, The Fragmentary History of Priscus (2014) Evolution Publishing, Merchantville, NJ ISBN 978-1-935228-14-1, p. 107
  16. ^ Paul the Deacon, Historia Romana 14.12
  17. ^ J. B. Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire, Macmillan 1923, p. 295-6.
  18. ^ Bronwen Neil, Leo the Great (Routledge 2009 ISBN 978-1-13528408-4), p. 49
  19. ^ [1] Philip Schaff (1819–1893), ed., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Series 2. Vol. 12. Leo the Great, Gregory the Great, Charles Lett Feltoe, trans. (Edinburgh: T and T Clark. Reprinted by Wm. B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan). Another translation is available at William Bright, trans. and comm., Select Sermons of S. Leo the Great on the Incarnation, with his 28th Epistle, Called the "Tome", 2nd ed., rev. and enl. (London: J. Masters, 1886), p.1, online at [2] and [3]
  20. ^ http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09154b.htm Catholic Encyclopedia on Pope St. Leo I (the Great)
  21. ^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana), p. 107


  • Meyendorff, John (1989). Imperial unity and Christian divisions: The Church 450-680 A.D. The Church in history. 2. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press. ISBN 978-0-88-141056-3.
  • Louise Ropes Loomis, (2006) The Book of Popes (Liber Pontificalis). Merchantville, NJ: Evolution Publishing. ISBN 1-889758-86-8 (Reprint of the 1916 edition. English translation with scholarly footnotes, and illustrations).
  • John Given, (2014) The Fragmentary History of Priscus: Attila, the Huns and the Roman Empire. Merchantville, NJ: Evolution Publishing. ISBN 1-935228-14-5.
  • Basil Studer: Art."Leo the Great", in: A. DiBerardino: "Patrology IV", Westminster ML 1994, pp. 589–612, ISBN 978-0870611278
  • Alois Grillmeier: "Christ in Christian Tradition", vols. 1 and 2/1, Westminster ML 1988/1987 (2nd revised edition), ISBN 978-0664223014 (Vol. 1), ISBN 978-0664221607 (Vol. 2, pt. 1).
  • T. Jalland, The Life and Times of St. Leo the Great, London 1941.
  • Hans Feichtinger: Die Gegenwart Christi in der Kirche bei Leo dem Großen, Frankfurt 2007, ISBN 978-3-631-56178-2.
  • Pope Leo's Tome ccel.org
  • Early Church Texts The Tome of Leo in Greek and Latin with English translation.
  • St Leo the Great the Pope of Rome Orthodox icon and synaxarion
  • Opera Omnia by Migne Patrologia Latina with analytical indexes
  • Hans Feichtinger: Die Gegenwart Christi in der Kirche bei Leo dem Großen, Frankfurt am Main u.a. 2007, ISBN 978-3-631-56178-2.
  • Basil Studer: Art.Leo the Great, in A. DiBerardino: Patrology IV, Westminster ML 1994, S. 589-612.
  • Alois Grillmeier: Jesus der Christus im Glauben der Kirche, Bd. 1 (Freiburg u.a. 1990), S. 734-750; Bd. 2/1 (Freiburg 1991), S. 131-200.
  • Ekkart Sauser (1992). "Pope Leo I". In Bautz, Traugott (ed.). Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German). 4. Herzberg: Bautz. cols. 1425–1435. ISBN 3-88309-038-7.
  • Rudolf Schieffer: Leo I. der Große in: Lexikon des Mittelalters. Vol. 5, Artemis & Winkler, Munich/Zurich 1991, ISBN 3-7608-8905-0, Col. 1876–1877.

External links

Titles of Chalcedonian Christianity
Preceded by
Sixtus III
Succeeded by

Year 461 (CDLXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Severinus and Dagalaiphus (or, less frequently, year 1214 Ab urbe condita). The denomination 461 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

Aeterna Dei sapientia

Aeterna Dei sapientia ("God's eternal wisdom") was the sixth encyclical made by Pope John XXIII, and was issued on 11 November 1961. It commemorates the fifteenth centennial of the death of Pope Leo I, also known as Saint Leo the Great and a Doctor of the Church. It calls for Christian unity. It calls for Christendom to unite against external movements such as Communism and secularism.

Bassianus (bishop)

Bassianus was the Bishop of Ephesus (444–448).As a priest of Ephesus, he was reportedly very popular, however his bishop, Memnon, is said to have sought his removal by promoting him to the Bishopric of Evaza due to jealousy. Bassianus repudiated the consecration to which he was violently forced to submit, an attitude approved by Memnon's successor, Basil. On the latter's death (444) Bassianus succeeded him and, though popular enthusiasm disregarded canonical procedure requiring the participation of three bishops to consecrate, his election was confirmed by Theodosius II and reluctantly by Archbishop Proclus of Constantinople. Bassianus reigned undisturbed for four years. At the Easter celebration in 448 he was seized by a mob and imprisoned. The emperor was importuned to remove him, and the case was referred to Pope Leo I and the Bishops of Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch, who declared the election invalid.

Stephen, whom Bassianus called the ringleader of his opponents, was elected in his stead. The Council of Chalcedon, on 29 October, 451, considered the plea of Bassianus for reinstatement and was disposed to favour him, but owing to the complex irregularities of the case it was deemed advisable to declare the see vacant. Bassianus and Stephen were retired on a pension with episcopal dignity. During the process Stephen cited Pope Leo's letter deposing Bassianus, a document which has been lost.

Chapel of St Leo, Żurrieq

The Chapel of St Leo is a Roman Catholic chapel is located in the village of Żurrieq, Malta. The chapel serves as the official cemetery chapel of Żurrieq. It is the only such chapel dedicated to Pope Leo I in Malta.

Eulogius of Alexandria

There was also a later Patriarch Eulogius of Alexandria.Eulogius of Alexandria (Greek: Εὐλόγιος) was Greek Patriarch of that see (Eulogius I) from 580 to 608. He is regarded as a saint, with a feast day of September 13.

He was a successful combatant of various phases of Monophysitism. He was a warm friend of Pope Gregory the Great, who corresponded with him, and received from that pope many flattering expressions of esteem and admiration.Eulogius refuted the Novatians, some communities of which ancient sect still existed in his diocese, and vindicated the hypostatic union of the two natures in Christ, against both Nestorius and Eutyches. Cardinal Baronius says that Gregory wished Eulogius to survive him, recognizing in him the voice of truth.

It has been said that he restored for a brief period to the Church of Alexandria life and youthful vigour.Besides the above works and a commentary against various sects of Monophysites (Severians, Theodosians, Cainites and Acephali) he left eleven discourses in defence of Pope Leo I and the Council of Chalcedon, also a work against the Agnoetae, submitted by him before publication to Pope Gregory I, who after some observations authorized it unchanged. With exception of one sermon and a few fragments, all the writings of Eulogius have perished.

Leo's Tome

Leo's Tome refers to a letter sent by Pope Leo I to Flavian of Constantinople explaining the position of the Papacy in matters of Christology. The text confesses that Christ has two natures and was not of or from two natures. The letter was a topic of debate at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 being eventually accepted as a doctrinal explanation of the nature of the Person of Christ. The letter was written in response to Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople, who had excommunicated Eutyches, who also wrote to the Pope to appeal the excommunication.

List of encyclicals of Pope John XXIII

Pope John XXIII (1881–1963, r. 1958–1963) issued eight Papal Encyclicals during his five-year reign as pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Two of his encyclicals, Mater et magistra and Pacem in terris, are especially important. An encyclical is a letter sent by the Pope which is addressed to Roman Catholic bishops in a particular area or of the whole world. Encyclicals may condemn errors, point out threats to faith and morals, exhort faithful practices, or provide remedies for present and future dangers to the church. The authority of the encyclical varies depending on the circumstances on the content and is not necessarily infallible. The title of a Papal Encyclical is usually taken from its first few words.Pope John XXIII's first encyclical, Ad Petri cathedram, was issued eight months into his pontificate and was neither an important social document nor doctrinal exposition. Instead it looked at truth, unity and peace with distinctive familiarity and concern. The second, Sacerdotii nostri primordia, commemorated the 100th anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney, while Grata recordatio considered the use of the Rosary. Princeps pastorum, his fourth encyclical, used 1 Peter 5:4 as its biblical text and celebrated Roman Catholic missions.

Mater et magistra, the fifth encyclical, carried forward ideas from Leo XIII's Rerum novarum (1891), which had been issued 70 years before, and Pius XI's Quadragesimo anno (1931). It considers social ethics with its most important point being the application of natural law to the international community. It is one of the longest encyclicals, at more than 25,000 words. The sixth encyclical, Aeterna Dei sapientia, commemorated the death of Pope Leo I and called for unity within Christendom from external movements such as Communism and secularism. The penultimate encyclical, Paenitentiam agere, considered penance and the then-upcoming Second Vatican Council. Pope John XXIII's final encyclical, Pacem in terris, was written two months before his death. It is long—over 15,000 words—and is the first in history to have been addressed to "all men of good will", rather than only the bishops and laity of the Roman Catholic Church. It was hailed as "one of the most profound and significant documents of our age."


Mincio (Italian pronunciation: [ˈmintʃo]; Latin: Mincius, Ancient Greek: Minchios, Μίγχιος) is a river in the Lombardy region of northern Italy.

The river is the main outlet of Lake Garda. It is a part of the Sarca-Mincio river system which also includes the river Sarca and the Lake Garda. The river starts from the south-eastern tip of the lake at the town of Peschiera del Garda and then flows from there for about 65 kilometres (40 mi) past Mantua and into the Po River.

At Mantua the Mincio was widened in the late 12th century, forming a series of three (originally four) lakes that skirt the edges of the old city. The original settlement here, dating from about 2000 BC, was on an island in the Mincio.

The former lower part of the course of the Mincio flowed into the Adriatic Sea near Adria until the breach at Cucca in 589, roughly following the course of the river that is currently known by the name of Canal Bianco; it had been a waterway from the sea to the lake until then.

In 452 CE, Attila the Hun received an embassy sent by the Western Roman Emperor Valentinian III near this river. The Roman delegation was led by Pope Leo I. After this meeting, Attila withdrew from Italy.

Papal chamberlain

Papal chamberlain was prior to 1968 a court title given by the Pope to high-ranking clergy as well as laypersons, usually members of prominent Italian noble families. They were members of the Papal Court and it was one of the highest honours that could be bestowed on a Catholic layman by the Pope. Known as Chamberlain of the Sword and Cape (Cameriere Segreti di spada e cappa) when conferred upon laypersons, it was mostly an honorary position, but a chamberlain generally served the Pope for at least one week per year during official liturgical or state ceremonies. The office was abolished by Pope Paul VI and replaced with the designation Gentleman of His Holiness for laypersons and other designations for clergy.

Many came from families that had long served the Papal Court over the course of several centuries, while others were appointed as a high honor, one of the highest the Papacy conferred on Catholic laymen (often prominent politicians or wealthy philanthropists). They were originally selected from members of Italian royal and aristocratic families. The position was much coveted, and for priests, it was often the final step before becoming a cardinal.

From the days of Pope Leo I (440-461) the pontifical household had included papal chamberlains who were personal attendants on the Pope in his private apartments. The number of papal chamberlains was never large, although their proximity to the Pope meant that many chamberlains would enjoy notable ecclesiastical careers and some were even promoted to the episcopacy. Their privileges were considerable. They ranked ex officio as Knights of the Golden Spur (Order of the Golden Militia) and nobles of Rome and Avignon. Prior to Vatican II they provided personal assistance to the Pope on formal state occasions as members of the Papal Court. The dignity was often given to members of noble families of Italy and other countries. They were required, or in practice entitled, to serve for at least one week per year during official ceremonies, and took part in Papal processions behind the Sedia Gestatoria, each wearing formal court dress and distinguished by a golden chain of office. Traditionally, priests who were Papal Chamberlains were addressed as "Very Reverend". This clerical rank has been superseded by the current designation "Chaplain of His Holiness" which confers the title reverend monsignor.

In ecclesiastical heraldry, laypersons so honored may display a golden chain surrounding their coat of arms.

All appointments were announced in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Plenitudo potestatis

Plenitudo potestatis was a term employed by medieval canonists to describe the jurisdictional power of the papacy. In the thirteenth century, the canonists used the term plenitudo potestatis to characterize the power of the pope within the church, or, more rarely, the pope's prerogative in the secular sphere. However, during the thirteenth century the pope's plenitudo potestatis expanded as the Church became increasingly centralized, and the pope's presence made itself felt every day in legislation, judicial appeals, and finance.

Although Plenitudo potestatis had been used in canonical writings since the time of Pope Leo I (440-461), Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) was the first pope to use the term regularly as a description of papal governmental power. Many historians have concluded that the pope's jurisdiction within the church was unchallenged. Essentially, the pope was the highest judge in the Church. His decisions were absolute and could not be abrogated by inferior members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy.

Pope Hilarius

Pope Hilarius (died 29 February 468) was Pope from 19 November 461 to his death in 468.

In 449, Hilarius served as a legate for Pope Leo I at the "Robber Council" of Ephesus. His opposition to the condemnation of Flavian of Constantinople incurred the enmity of Dioscurus of Alexandria, who attempted to prevent him from leaving the city. Hilarius was able to make his escape and returned to Rome by an indirect route. He later erected an oratory at the Lateran in honor the St. John the Evangelist, to whom he attributed his safe passage.

Much of his pontificate was spent in maintaining ecclesiastical discipline in conformity with canon law, and in settling jurisdictional disputes among the bishops of both Gaul and Spain.

Sack of Aquileia

The Sack of Aquileia occurred in 452, and was carried out by the Huns under the leadership of Attila.A year after Attila's defeat at the Battle of Catalaunian Fields, Attila launched an invasion of Italy, passing through Pannonia into Venetia, where he laid siege to Aquileia. Jordanes states that the city was well defended, to the point where Attila was considering withdrawing. Indeed, Ian Hughes suggests that since Aetius was unable to blockade the Julian Alps, he instead reinforced the city garrison to force Attila into a siege, or otherwise risk Roman forces cutting off his potential retreat. The siege lasted for some time, and Jordanes states that as Attila was considering withdrawing, the city fell in a renewed assault and he razed it to the ground. Attila then proceeded to raid Italy, with Aetius able to do little more than harass Attila at best. It was only when an embassy including Pope Leo I arrived that Attila finally ended his invasion, likely as a result of famine, disease, and an Eastern Roman Army approaching the Hunnic settlements near the Tisza.Before its destruction, Aquileia was a center of government (with an imperial residence), commerce and finance (with a mint), military defense, and Christianity (with a bishop). Its destruction and Attila's subsequent unimpeded ravaging of the province of Venetia (modern Veneto and Friuli) paved the way for the rise of Venice, which within a few centuries replaced and even surpassed it in importance.

Sack of Rome (455)

The sack of 455 was the third of four ancient sacks of Rome; it was conducted by the Vandals, who were then at war with the usurping Western Roman Emperor Petronius Maximus.

Saia Maior

Saia Maior also known as Saia Maggiore was a Roman era civitas of the Roman province of Africa Proconsularis.

The ancient city is tentatively identified with ruins at Henchir-Simidia, Tunisia

The city was also the seat of an ancient bishopric, suffragan of the Archdiocese of Carthage. Only two documented bishops Saia Maggiore are known. The Catholic Donato intervened at the Council of Carthage (411), at that time the seat had no Donatist bishops.

Another bishop named Donato has lived at the time of Pope Leo I, and is mentioned in his letters. Today Saia Major survives as a titular bishopric and the current Bishop is Antonio Bonifacio Reimann Panic.

Saint Leo the Great Parish

Saint Leo the Great Parish is a territorial parish of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose in California. The parish was founded in 1923 and named for Pope Leo I, a Doctor of the Church. Since 1997 the parish has been administered by

St. Leo the Great Parish operates Saint Leo the Great School that serves families of the Diocese of San Jose, from PreKindergarten to eighth grade. The namesake of the surrounding St. Leo's neighborhood of San Jose, California is named after the school which was established in 1915 by the Sisters of Notre Dame.

The first church was built in 1926 as seen in this photo taken by John C. Gordon in 1931.

The second church replaced the original building in 1953

The church has 2 organs. A 300 pipe organ in the choir loft and a smaller Yamaha US1-C at the front of the church.

Second Council of Ephesus

The Second Council of Ephesus was a Christological church synod in 449 AD convened by Emperor Theodosius II under the presidency of Pope Dioscorus I of Alexandria. It was intended to be an ecumenical council, and it is accepted as such by the Miaphysite orthodox but was rejected by the Chalcedonian dyophysites. It was explicitly repudiated by the dyophysite’s fourth and next council, the Council of Chalcedon of 451, and it was named the Latrocinium or "Robber Council" by Pope Leo I. To this day, several Churches that adopted the Council of Chalcedon refer to it the same, but several Orthodox Churches refute that.

Both this council and that at Chalcedon dealt primarily with Christology, the study of the nature of Christ. Both councils affirmed the doctrine of the hypostatic union and upheld the orthodox Christian doctrine that Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully Man. The Second Council of Ephesus decreed St Cyril of Alexandria’s formula that Christ is one(one is a qualitative description of Union of divinity & humanity) incarnate nature [miaphysis], that is fully human & fully God united without separation, without confusion, without mixture & without alteration. The Council of Chalcedon decreed that in Christ two natures exist, "a divine nature [physis] and a human nature [physis], united in one person [hypostasis], with neither division nor confusion".Those who do not accept the decrees of Chalcedon nor later ecumenical councils are variously named monophysites (though this term is only correctly used to describe a small minority and is most often pejoratively applied to others), miaphysites, or non-Chalcedonians, and comprise what is today known as Oriental Orthodoxy, a communion of eight autocephalous ecclesial communions Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Syriac Orthodox Church, and the Armenian Apostolic Church. Those who accepted the teaching of Chalcedon but resided in areas dominated by Oriental Orthodox bishops were called by the non-Chalcedonians Melkites, or "King's men" (as the Emperors were usually Chalcedonians),. The Antiochian Orthodox Church historically descends from these people. Shortly after the Council of Chalcedon, the miaphysite party appointed a Pope of Alexandria in opposition to the Chalcedonian Pope of Alexandria. Over the next few centuries, various popes usually held to either one side or the other although some accepting the Henotikon. Eventually, two separate papacies were established, each claiming sole legitimacy.

The Meeting of Leo the Great and Attila

The Meeting of Leo I and Attila is a fresco by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael and his assistant Giulio Romano. It was painted in 1514 as part of Raphael's commission to decorate the rooms that are now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. It is located in the Stanza di Eliodoro, which is named after The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple.

The painting depicts the meeting between the Pope Leo I and Attila the Hun, and includes the images of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the sky bearing swords. Initially, Raphael depicted Leo I with the face of Pope Julius II but after Julius' death, Raphael changed the painting to resemble the new pope, Leo X.

Veranus of Vence

Veranus was the fourth Bishop of Vence, Gaul, after a period as a monk.Veranus was the son of Saint Eucherius of Lyon and his wife Galla. Both he and his brother Salonius were educated at Lérins Abbey, first by Hilary of Arles, then by Salvianus and Vincent of Lérins. His father's Liber formularum spiritalis intelligentiae is addressed to Veranius and is a defence of the lawfulness of reading an allegorical sense in Scripture, bringing to bear the metaphors in Psalms.

Veranus became Bishop of Vence around 442 and served at least until 465. In February 464, Pope Hilarius commissioned Bishop Veranus to warn Mamertus of Vienne that, if in the future he did not refrain from irregular ordinations, (that is, of bishops outside of his diocese) his faculties would be withdrawn. This was to uphold the primatial privileges of the See of Arles as definded by Pope Leo I.The bishop's date of death is uncertain. His remains lie in a carved sarcophagus in La Cathedrale Notre-Dame de la Nativite de Vence.

The Morgan Library has a Book of Hours from Rouen from about 1525 illuminated with a miniature depicting Bishop Veranus.

Verona Sacramentary

The Verona Sacramentary (Latin: Sacramentarium Veronense) or Leonine Sacramentary (Sacramentarium Leonianum) is the oldest surviving liturgical book of the Roman rite. It is not a sacramentary in the strict sense, but rather a private collection of libelli missarum (missal booklets) containing only the prayers for certain masses and not the scriptures, the canon or the antiphons. It is named after the sole surviving manuscript, Codex Veronensis LXXXV, which was found in the chapter library of the cathedral of Verona by Giuseppe Bianchini and published in his four-volume Anastasii bibliothecarii vitae Romanorum pontificum in 1735. It is sometimes called "Leonine" because it has been attributed to Pope Leo I (died 461), but while some of the prayers may be his compositions the entire work certainly is not.The Codex Veronensis LXXXV was copied in the early seventh century outside of Rome, but some of its material is clearly derived from Roman pamphlets (libelli missarum) and dates to the fifth and sixth centuries. Its contents are arranged according to the civil calendar, but the three quires containing the period 1 January – 14 April are lost. Thus, there is no information in the earliest Roman liturgical book concerning the Easter Vigil.

1st–4th centuries
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Byzantine Papacy (537–752)
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Crescentii era (974–1012)
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13th–16th centuries
Viterbo (1257–1281)
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Roman Question (1870–1929)
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21st century
History of the papacy
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Virgin Mary
See also

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