Saint Paul-Without-The-Walls, Rome. Author: Herbert Weber, Hildesheim. Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence. Wikimedia Commons.

11 April 2021

Saint Leo I (Saint Leo The Great). Pope. Confessor And Doctor Of The Church. Feast Day 11 April.

Text is from The Saint Andrew Daily Missal,
unless otherwise stated.

Saint Leo I.
   Doctor of The Church.
   Feast Day 11 April.


White Vestments.

English: Saint Leo Magnus
(Saint Leo the Great) (Pope Leo I).
Español: San León Magno.
Artist: Francisco de Herrera el Mozo (1622-1685).
Current location: Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain.
Author: Francisco Herrera the Younger (1622–1685).
(Wikimedia Commons)

Saint Leo, surnamed "The Great", was called to govern The Church (Communion). In him are verified the words of the Introit, taken from The Book of Wisdom: "The Lord has opened his mouth in the midst of The Church and has filled him with The Spirit of Wisdom and Intelligence". And, also, the words of the Offertory: "I have anointed My servant with Holy Oil and I lent him the strength of My arm."

As Doctor of The Church and defender of civilisation, he gained signal victories over heretics and barbarians.

Saint Leo the Great.
Available on YouTube at

He opposed Eutyches, who denied the two Natures of Christ, and Nestorius, who affirmed that there were two Persons in Jesus; which fatal doctrines tended towards the destruction of the great work of Redemption celebrated by The Paschal Cycle.

The Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.) exclaimed: "Peter has spoken by the mouth of Leo." Wherefore, the Gospel reminds us of the prerogatives of The Chief Pastor of The Church.

The Meeting between Pope Leo the Great
(painted as a portrait of Pope Leo X) and Attila.
Artist: Raphael (1483–1520).

Description: The fresco was completed after the death of Pope Julius II (Pontiff from 1503 to 1513), during the Pontificate of his successor, Pope Leo X (Pontiff from 1513 to 1521).
In fact, the latter appears twice in the same scene, portrayed in the guise of
Pope Leo the Great and as a Cardinal. According to legend, the miraculous
apparition of Saints Peter and Paul, armed with swords, during the meeting
between Pope Leo the Great and Attila (452 A.D.) caused the King of the Huns
to desist from invading Italy and marching on Rome.
Date of Painting: 1514.
Current location: Stanza di Eliodoro, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican
Source/Photographer: Web gallery of Art: [2] Art Renewal Center image
(Wikimedia Commons)

Saint Leo stopped the advance of Attila the Hun, "the scourge of God", at The Gates of Rome (452 A.D.) and decided him to retire to Pannonia (North Balkans). Saint Leo died on 11 April 461 A.D.

Let us ask God , through Saint Leo's intercession, to apply to us the merits of The Risen Christ, that we may be freed from our sins. (Collect).

Mass: In médio.
Commemoration: Of The Feria, in Lent.
Last Gospel: Of The Feria, in Lent.

English: Altar of Saint Leo The Great,
Basilica of Saint Peter's, Vatican, Italy.
Italiano: Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano.
Photo: 16 March 2014.
Source: Own work.
Author: Sailko
(Wikimedia Commons)

The following Text is from Wikipedia - the free encyclopædia.

Pope Leo I (400 A.D. – 461 A.D.), also known as Saint Leo the Great, was Pope from
29 September 440 A.D., to his death in 461 A.D.

He was an Italian 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 A.D., 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 foundational to the debates of The Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D). 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.

According to The Liber Pontificalis, he was a native of Tuscany, Italy. By 431 A.D., as a Deacon, he occupied a sufficiently important position for Cyril of Alexandria to apply to him, in order that Rome's influence should be thrown against the claims of Juvenal of Jerusalem to Patriarchal jurisdiction over Palestine — unless this Letter is addressed rather to Pope Celestine I.

About the same time, John Cassian dedicated to him the Treatise against Nestorius, written 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 Cæcina Decius Aginatius Albinus, the two highest officials in Gaul.

English: Emblem of the Papacy: Triple Tiara and Keys.
Deutsch: Emblem des Pontifikats.
Français: Emblème pontifical.
Italiano: Emblema del Papato.
Português: Emblema papal.
Date: 19 January 2007.
Source: various elements taken from File:Holysee-arms.svg
Author: Cronholm144 created this image using a file by User:Hautala - File:Emblem of Vatican City State.svg, who had created his file using PD art from Open Clip Art Library and uploaded on 13 July 2006.
User talk:F l a n k e r uploaded this version on 19 January 2007.
(Wikimedia Commons)

During his absence on this mission, Pope Sixtus III died (11 August 440 A.D.), and Leo was unanimously elected by the people to succeed him. On 29 September 440 A.D., he entered upon a Pontificate which was to be epoch-making for the centralisation of the government of The Roman Church.

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 Saviour (Soteriology). This 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 Organised Church, especially in a Council.

English: Church of Saint Leo The Great,
Morbihan, France.
Français: Église de Treffléan (Morbihan).
Photo: January 2010.
Source: Own work.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Leo contributes to the development of The Doctrine on Papal Primacy, based on his personal devotion to Saint Peter and on the Veneration for the Apostle and his tomb in Rome. Besides recourse to Biblical language, Leo also describes his own special relationship with Saint Peter in terms derived from Roman law. He calls 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 stands before him with a claim on how Leo is to exercise his Office; on the other hand, Leo, as the Roman Bishop, represents the Apostle, whose authority he holds. Christ, however, always comes out as The Source of All Grace and Authority, and Leo is responsible to Him for how he fulfills his duties (cf. Sermon 1). Peter is indeed the example for Leo's relationship to Christ. Thus, The Office of The Roman Bishop, with its universal significance, is grounded on the special relationship between Christ and Saint Peter, a relationship that, per se, cannot be repeated; therefore, Leo depends on Saint 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 was a significant contributor to the centralisation of Spiritual authority within The Church and in reaffirming Papal authority. While The Bishop of Rome had always been viewed as The Chief Patriarch in The Western Church, much of the Pope's authority was delegated to local Diocesan Bishops. Not without serious opposition did he succeed in reasserting his authority in Gaul. Patroclus of Arles (died 426 A.D.) 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 reassert the Pope's authority over Hilary, who defended himself stoutly at Rome, refusing to recognise 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 Emperor Valentinian III the famous decree of 6 June 445 A.D., which recognised 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. Faced with this decree, Hilary submitted to the Pope, although under Hilary's successor, Ravennius, Leo divided the Metropolitan Rights between Arles and Vienne (450 A.D.).

English: Church of Saint Leo The Great,
Ponteginori, Tuscany, Italy.
Italiano: Ponteginori - Chiesa di San Leone Magno.
Photo: 9 October 2009.
Source: Own work.
Author: Daio
(Wikimedia Commons)

In 445 A.D., Leo disputed with Patriarch Dioscorus, Saint 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 Saint 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 Patriarchates as equals.

Regarding Africa, 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, which he did decisively in regard to a number of questions of discipline.

Regarding Italy, in a Letter to The Bishops of Campania, Picenum, and Tuscany (443 A.D.) he required the observance of all his precepts and those of his predecessors; and he sharply rebuked The Bishops of Sicily (447 A.D.) 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.

Regarding Greece, 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.

Saint Leo the Great Church,
Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America.
Photo: 6 November 2011.
Source: Own work.
Author: Teda13
(Wikimedia Commons)

In a Letter of, about, 446 A.D., 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."

A favourable 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 Pope Leo and took refuge with him on his condemnation by Flavian. But on receiving full information from Flavian, Pope Leo took his side decisively. In 451 A.D., at The Council of Chalcedon, after Leo's 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 Pope Leo . . ."

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 abjuration before a Synod.

Manichæans, fleeing before The Vandals, had come to Rome in 439 A.D., and secretly organised there; Leo learned of this around 443 A.D., and proceeded against them by holding a public debate with their representatives, burning their books, and warning the Roman Christians against them.

Stained-Glass Window, depicting Doctors of The Church,
including Saint Leo the Great. Saint Mary's Basilica of The Assumption,
Covington, Kentucky, United States of America.
Photo: 13 December 2011.
Source: Own work.
Author: Nheyob
(Wikimedia Commons)

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 (21 July 447 A.D.), 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.

At The Second Council of Ephesus, in 449 A.D., Leo's Representatives delivered his famous Tome (Latin: Letter), or 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, the formulas of Western Christology. The Council did not read the Letter, and paid no attention to the protests of Leo's Legates, but deposed Flavian and Eusebius of Dorylaeum, who appealed to Rome. Partially due to this, The Council was never recognised 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. This time it was read out. 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."

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 A.D., repudiated all the decisions of The "Robber Synod" (The Second Council of Ephesus, 449 A.D.). Without going into a critical examination of its Dogmatic Decrees, in his Letters to The Emperor, and others, he demanded the deposition of Eutyches as a Manichæan and Docetic Heretic.

English: Stained-Glass Window, depicting Saint Leo the Great.
Church of Saint Vincent-de-Paul, Clichy, France.
Deutsch: Bleiglasfenster (Ausschnitt) in der katholischen Pfarrkirche
Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, in Clichy. Darstellung: Papst Leo der Große
Photo: 28 March 2011.
Source: Own work.
Author: GFreihalter
(Wikimedia Commons)

With the death of Theodosius II, in 450 A.D., 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 recognised.

Leo was now no longer desirous of having a Council, especially since it was not to be held in Italy. Instead, it was called to meet at Nicaea, then subsequently transferred to Chalcedon, where his Legates held at least an Honorary Presidency, and where the Bishops recognised 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 Leo I, the Thracian (457 A.D.), there seemed to be a disposition toward compromise with the Eutychians.

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.

(Augustinus and, possibly, Leo the Great). Detail from the manneristic frescos
by Carlo Urbino on the Ceiling of The Altar Chapel in The Cappella di sant'Aquilino in the Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore in Milan
(Sant'Agostino e Leone Magno). Particolare dagli affreschi manieristi
di Carlo Urbino sul soffitto della cappella dell'altare nella Cappella di sant'Aquilino nella Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore a Milano
Photo: 18 May 2007.
Source: Own work.
Author: Foto di Giovanni Dall'Orto
(Wikimedia Commons)

The approaching collapse of The Western Empire gave Leo a further opportunity to appear as the representative of lawful authority.

Despite his defeat at The Battle of Chalons in 451 A.D., Attila invaded Italy in 452 A.D., 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 A.D., 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. Historians debate possible reasons. 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 (famous Roman General) at that time are unknown, and Attila, or his warriors, may have felt endangered by their arch-enemy from The Catalaunian Plains.

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.

Saint Leo, in Glory.
Source: Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England.
Author: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696–1770).
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Emperor refused to surrender Honoria (his sister), 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 (Marcianus: The Eastern Emperor) 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.

Most historians celebrated Leo's actions, giving him all the credit for this successful Embassy. According to Prosper of Aquitaine, Attila was so impressed by Leo that he withdrew. Jordanes says that Attila was afraid of sharing the fate of the Visigoth King, Alaric, who died shortly after sacking Rome in 410 A.D. Paul the Deacon, in the Late-8th-Century A.D., relates that an enormously huge man dressed in Priestly Robes and armed with a naked 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. Unfortunately, Leo's intercession could not prevent the Sack of the City by The Vandals, in 455 A.D., but murder and arson were repressed by his influence. He died in 461 A.D.

Church of Saint Leo the Great and Saint Boniface,
Gołdap, Poland.
Photo: 10 August 2012.
Source: Own work.
Ludwig Schneider / Wikimedia.
(Wikimedia Commons)

In his Nativitate Domini, in The Christmas Day Sermon, "Christian, Remember your Dignity", Leo appears to articulate a fundamental and inclusive human dignity and equality: The Saint, the sinner, and the unbeliever are all equal as sinners, and none is excluded in the call to "happiness":

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.

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 ninety-six 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.

English: Church of Pope Saint Leo the Great,
Wejherowo, Poland.
Polski: Wejherowo, ul. Sobieskiego - kościół św. Leona Wielkiego.
Ujęty z tyłu. (zabytek nr 1890 z 5.11.2012).
Photo: 12 April 2010.
Source: Own work.
Author: Starscream
(Wikimedia Commons)

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.

The Roman 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 Day of 11 April was admitted to The General Roman Calendar, which maintained that date until 1969. 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's Feast Day on 18 February.

Leo was originally buried in his own monument. However, some years after his death, his remains were put into a tomb that contained the first four Pope Leos. In the 18th-Century, Leo the Great's Relics were separated from those of the other Leos and he was given his own Chapel.

English: Church of Saint Leo the Great,
Mauricie, Canada.
Français: L'église Saint-Léon-le-Grand,
Mauricie, Canada,
est une église construite entre 1819 et 1824.
Photo: 3 September 2012.
Source: Own work.
Author: Fralambert
(Wikimedia Commons)

English: Church of Saint Leo the Great,
Mauricie, Canada.
Français: L'église Saint-Léon-le-Grand,
Mauricie, Canada,
est une église construite entre 1819 et 1824.
Photo: 3 September 2012.
Source: Own work.
Author: Fralambert
(Wikimedia Commons)

English: Church of Saint Leo the Great,
Mauricie, Canada.
Français: L'église Saint-Léon-le-Grand,
Mauricie, Canada,
est une église construite entre 1819 et 1824.
Photo: 3 September 2012.
Source: Own work.
Author: Fralambert
(Wikimedia Commons)


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 Honoured Trinity, you shed the light of the knowledge of God upon your flock. Therefore, you are glorified as a Divine Initiate of The Grace of God.

No comments:

Post a comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...