Pope Leo IV
English name=Saint Leo IV
April 10, 847
July 17, 855
other=Leo infobox popestyles
papal name=Pope Leo IV
Pope Saint Leo IV was
popefrom April 10, 847to July 17, 855.
A Roman by birth, he was unanimously chosen to succeed Sergius II. When he was elected, on
April 10, 847, he was cardinal of Santi Quattro Coronati, and had been subdeacon of Gregory IV and archpriest under his predecessor. His pontificate was chiefly distinguished by his efforts to repair the damage done by the Saracensduring the reign of his predecessor to various churches of the city, especially those of St Peter and St Paul. The Saracens were sieging Gaeta, and then between 848 and 849 Leo had the walls of the city restored and strengthened. When the Muslims closed to Portus, he summoned the Repubbliche Marinareor mariner cities of Italy: Naples, Gaetaand Amalfito form a league. The command of the unified fleet was given to Cesarius, son of Duke Sergius I of Naples. The subsequent Battle of Ostiawas one of the most famous in the Middle Ages Papacy history, and is celebrated in a famous fresco by Raphaeland his pupils in his Rooms of the Vatican Palacein the Vatican City. Another episode of Leo's life celebrated by the Urbinate in his series of frescoes painter is the "Incendio di Borgo": it depicts the great burning of the Anglo-Saxon district of Rome (the "Borgo") which, according to the legend, was stopped by Leo simply making the sign of the cross.
In order to definitively counter the Saracen menace, Leo ordered a new line of walls encompassing the suburb on the right bank of the
Tiberto be built, including the till now undefended St. Peter's Basilica. The district enclosed by the walls is still known as the "Civitas Leonina", namely the City of Leo. He also embellished the damaged churches of St. Paul and St. Peter's: the latter's altar received again (after the former had been stolen) his gold covering, which weighed 206 lb. and was studded with precious gems.
Leo held three synods, one of them in 850, distinguished by the presence of Louis II, but none of them otherwise of importance. The history of the papal struggle with
Hincmar of Reims, which began during Leo's pontificate, belongs rather to that of Nicholas I.
Leo died on
July 17, 855and was buried in St. Peter's. Benedict III was Leo's immediate successor. A medieval tradition claimed that a woman, Pope Joan, succeeded him, disguising herself as a man; Joan is generally believed to be fictitious.
*Cheetham, Nicolas, "Keepers of the Keys", New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1983. ISBN 0-684-1863-X
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09159a.htm Catholic Encyclopedia: "Pope St. Leo IV"]
* [http://www.documentacatholicaomnia.eu/01_01_0847-0855-_Leo_IV,_Sanctus.html Opera Omnia by Migne Patrologia Latina with analytical indexes]
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