Saint Leo the Great, Doctor of the Church (440-461)

The 45th Pope of the Church, Leo I, was born in Tuscany, in 406. His feast is celebrated on November 10.

His time was a troubled one: while the Roman Empire was beginning to disintegrate under the blows of foreign invasions - Franks, Visigoths, Vandals, Huns, and Burgundians - the Church, confronted to several heresies, threatened to burst asunder.

It is said that he stopped Attila about to invade Italy at the head of the Huns, in 452. The Emperor's army was insufficient: it is the meeting of Leo and Attila that persuaded the latter to spare Rome and withdraw behind the Danube. To thank heaven, Leo ordered a statue of St Peter to be made with the bronze from a statue of Jupiter. Later, Leo opposed the sack of Rome by the Vandals, but was powerless to prevent it, in 455.

Leo I supported Flavian, patriarch of Constantinople, in a celebrated dogmatic letter, "the Tome to Flavian," which was to form the basis for the definition of the Christological Council of Chalcedon (451) a few years later: that Jesus Christ unites in his sole person the whole divine nature and the whole human nature.

Leo was the first pope to be interred in the Saint Peter Basilica in Rome.

Marie de Nazareth Team