Ecclesiam res et talia sermocinamur -

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Pope St. Leo the Great

This is a really spectacular week for feasts: the Lateran Basillica yesterday, St. Leo today, and St. Martin of Tours tomorrow.

St. Leo reigned as pope from 440-461. The period of his papacy was one of unrest, widespread heresy, and the military and political deterioration of the empire. Yet Leo was able not only to preserve the Church, but greatly strengthen it as well. He fought Pelagianism, Manichaeism, and Priscillianism. He also defended Church teachings about the nature of Christ and the Trinity against the errors of some in the Eastern parts of the Church. He secured the primacy of the See of Peter during this time of disturbance, and greatly augmented the organization and stability of the Church, especially in Gaul, which theretofore had been somewhat of an ecclesiastical backwater beset by episcopal disputes. He restored a number of Roman churches, including St. Peter's. He also wrote widely and with great lucidity; 96 homilies and 143 letters penned by him have survived. Most famously, he confronted Attila the Hun at Mincio in 452 and warned the Scourge of God not to come to Rome, lest he die. Attila turned away from the city, but ventured back towards Rome the next year, at which point he was assassinated by one of his concubines.

Leo died on this date in 461, and was interred in the vestabule of St. Peter's. In 688 his remains were moved to the interior of the basillica itself, and now lie beneath an altar dedicated to him. Benedict XIV named him a Doctor of the Church in 1754.

New Advent on Leo the Great
American Inquisition on Leo the Great

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