Pope Leo I
English name= Saint Leo I
September 29, 440
November 10, 461
Roman Catholicand Eastern Catholic Churches, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican Church|infobox popestyles
papal name=Pope Leo I
Pope Saint Leo I or Pope Saint Leo the Great was
Popefrom September 29, 440to November 10, 461.
He was an Italian
aristocratand the first Pope of the Italian Catholic Church to receive the title "the Great" Fact|date=August 2007. He is perhaps best known for having met Attila the Hunoutside Italyin 452 in an attempt to persuade the king not to sack the city. He is also a Doctor of the Church, and a leading figure in the centralization of the organization of the Roman Catholic Church.
According to the "
Liber Pontificalis" he was a native of Tuscany. By 431, as a deacon, he occupied a sufficiently important position for Cyril of Alexandriato apply to him in order that Rome's influence should be thrown against the claims of Juvenal of Jerusalemto patriarchal jurisdiction over Palestine-- unless this letter is addressed rather to Pope Celestine I. About the same time John Cassiandedicated to him the treatise against Nestoriuswritten at his request. But nothing shows more plainly the confidence felt in him than his being chosen by the emperor to settle the dispute between Aëtius and Albinus, the two highest officials in Gaul.
During his absence on this mission,
Pope Sixtus IIIdied ( August 11, 440), and Leo was unanimously elected by the people to succeed him. On September 29he entered upon a pontificate which was to be epoch-making for the centralization of the government of the Roman Church.
Zeal for Chalcedonian Christology
An uncompromising foe of heresy, Leo found that in the diocese of
Aquileia, Pelagians were received into church communion without formal repudiation of their errors; he wrote to rebuke them, making accusations of culpable negligence, and required a solemn abjurationbefore a synod.
Manicheans fleeing before the
Vandalshad come to Rome in 439 and secretly organized there; Leo learned of this around 443, and proceeded against them by holding a public debate with their representatives, burning their books, and warning the Roman Christians against them. His efforts led to the edict of Valentinian IIIagainst them ( June 19, 445).
Nor was his attitude less decided against the
Priscillianists. Bishop Turrubius of Astorga, astonished at the spread of this 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 exercise Roman policy in Spain. He wrote an extended treatise ( July 21, 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 -- but this was prevented by the political circumstances of Spain.
In 445, Leo disputed with Pope Dioscorus, St.
Cyril's successor as Pope of Alexandria, insisting that the ecclesiastical practise of his see should follow that of Rome; since Mark, the disciple of Peter and founder of the Alexandrian Church, could have had no other tradition than that of the prince of the apostles. This, of course, was not the position of the Copts, who saw the ancient patraiarchates as equals.
The fact that the African province of
Mauretania Caesariensishad been preserved to the empire and thus to the Nicene faith in the Vandalinvasion, and in its isolation was disposed to rest on outside support, gave Leo an opportunity to assert his authority there, which he did decisively in regard to a number of questions of discipline.
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, Illyriawas ecclesiastically subject to Rome. Pope Innocent Ihad constituted the metropolitan of Thessalonicahis vicar, in order to oppose the growing influence of the patriarch of Constantinoplein 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." [ [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3604014.htm Letter XIV] ]
In 451 at the
Council of Chalcedon, after Leo's [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.xi.vii.html Tome] on the two natures of Christ was read out, the bishops participating in the Council cried out: "This is the faith of the fathers ... Peter has spoken thus through Leo ..." [ [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.xi.viii.html Extract from the Acts of the Council] ]
Roman Authority in Gaul
Not without serious opposition did he succeed in asserting his authority over Gaul.
Patroclus of Arles(d. 426) had received from Pope Zosimusthe recognition of a primacyover the Gallican Church which was strongly asserted by his successor Hilary. An appeal from Celidonius of Besançongave Leo occasion to proceed against Hilary, who defended himself stoutly at Rome, refusing to recognize Leo's judicial status. But Leo restored Celidonius and restricted Hilary to his own diocese, depriving him even of his metropolitan rights over the province of Vienne.
Feeling that his dominant idea of the Roman universal monarchy was threatened, Leo appealed to the civil power for support, and obtained from
Valentinian IIIthe famous decree of June 6, 445, which recognized the primacy of the bishop of Rome based on the merits of Peter, the dignity of the city, and the Nicene Creed(in their interpolated form); ordained that any opposition to his rulings, which were to have the force of law, should be treated as treason; and provided for the forcible extradition by provincial governors of anyone who refused to answer a summons to Rome. Hilary made his submission, although under his successor, Ravennius, Leo divided the metropolitan rights between Arles and Vienne (450).
A favorable occasion for extending the authority of Rome in the East was offered in the renewal of the Christological controversy by
Eutyches, who 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.
Second Council of Ephesus, Leo's representatives delivered his famous "Tome" (Latin text, a letter), or statement of the faith of the Roman Church in the form of a letter addressed to Flavian, which repeats, in close adherence to Augustine, the formulas of western Christology, without really touching the problem that was agitating the East. The council did not read the letter, and paid no attention to the protests of Leo's legates, but deposed Flavian and Eusebius, who appealed to Rome.
Leo demanded of the emperor that an
ecumenicalcouncil should be held in Italy, and in the meantime, at a Roman synod in October, 449, repudiated all the decisions of the "Robber Synod." Without going into a critical examination of its dogmatic decrees, in his letters to the emperor and others he demanded the deposition of Eutychesas a Manicheanand Doceticheretic.
With the death of
Theodosius IIin 450 and the sudden change in the Eastern situation, Anatolius, the new patriarch of Constantinople fulfilled Leo's requirements, and his "Tome" was everywhere read and recognized.
He was now no longer desirous of having a council, especially since it would not be held in Italy. It was called to meet at Nicaea, then transferred to
Chalcedon, where his legates held at least an honorary presidency, and where the bishops recognized him as the interpreter of the voice of Peter and as the head of their body, requesting of him the confirmation of their decrees. He 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 the Emperor Leo I (457) there seemed to be a disposition toward compromise with the Eutychians. He succeeded in having an imperial patriarch, and not the Oriental OrthodoxPope Timotheus Aelurus, chosen as Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria on the murder of Greek Patriarch Proterius of Alexandria.
The approaching collapse of the Western Empire gave Leo a further opportunity to appear as the representative of lawful authority. When Attila invaded
Italyin 452 and threatened Rome, it was Leo who, with two high civil functionaries, went to meet him, and effected his withdrawal. According to Prosper of Aquitaine, he was so impressed by him that he withdrew. [ [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/attila2.html Medieval Sourcebook: Leo I and Attila ] ] Jordanes, who represents Leo's contemporary Priscus, gives other grounds. Pragmatic concerns such as the large sum of gold that accompanied Leo, or logistical and strategic concerns, may have been the true reason for Attila's mercy. Attila's army was already quite stretched and full from booty from plunder, the Pope's plea for mercy may well have merely served as an honorable reason to not continuing on and sacking the Roman capitol.Fact|date=August 2007 Other sources of Catholic hagiographical information cite that an enormously huge man dressed in priestly robes and armed with a flaming sword, visible only to Attila, threatened him and his army with death during his discourse with Pope Leo, and this prompted Attila to submit to the Pope's request. [ [http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/saintl04.htm saintl04.htm ] ] Unfortunately Leo's intercession could not prevent the sack of the city by the Vandalsin 455, but murder and arson were repressed by his influence. He died probably on November 10, 461.
The significance of Leo's pontificate lies in the fact of his assertion of the universal jurisdiction of the Roman bishop, which comes out in his letters, and still more in his ninety-six extant orations. This assertion is commonly referred to as the doctrine of
According to him the Church is built upon Peter, in pursuance of the promise of . 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 own special flock, the Roman with that of the whole Church. Other bishops are only his assistants in this great task. In Leo's eyes the decrees of the
Council of Chalcedonacquired their validity from his confirmation.
St. Leo's letters and sermons reflect the many aspects of his career and personality, including his great personal influence for good, and are invaluable historical sources. His rhythmic prose style, called cursus leonicus, influenced ecclesiastical language for centuries
Roman Catholicand many Anglicanchurches mark November 10as the feast day of Saint Leo (formerly April 11), while the Eastern Orthodoxchurches mark February 18as his feast day.
List of 10 longest-reigning popes
*Louise Ropes Loomis, "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).
* T. Jalland, "The Life and Times of St. Leo the Great", (London, 1941).
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09154b.htm Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope St. Leo I]
* [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf212.ii.iv.xxviii.html Pope Leo's "Tome"] ccel.org
* [http://www.earlychurchtexts.com/main/leo/tome_of_leo_01.shtml Early Church Texts] The Tome of Leo in Greek and Latin with English translation.
* [http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=100553 St Leo the Great the Pope of Rome] Orthodox
* [http://www.documentacatholicaomnia.eu/01_01_0440-0461-_Leo_I,_Magnus,_Sanctus.html Opera Omnia by Migne Patrologia Latina with analytical indexes]
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