Skip to comments.Saint Leo the Great - Defender of Rome and Codifier of Orthodoxy
Posted on 04/11/2005 9:41:10 AM PDT by murphE
The twelvth Doctor in this chronological series on the Doctors of the Church was the first of two Sovereign Pontiffs to be elevated to the noble and dogmatic structure of Doctor and be called "Great." The first, whom we feature today, was Leo the Great, better known in his time as Pope Leo I who became the 45th in the line of Peter as Pope Leo I when he was chosen to succeed Pope Sixtus III on September 29, 440.
Born in Tuscany, Italy near the very end of the 4th Century, Leo came up through the ranks of the Deaconate and was in France attempting to reconcile the warring factions there when he was elected Pope. Though, like most pontiffs, he did not feel worthy, he nevertheless accepted the privileged and august duties of leading God's people through the middle of a most turbulent century.
Because of the alarming times and because of his position as head of the Church, the people looked to him for leadership and to save them from the plights that would afflict them, yet Leo, as a humble but effective deacon knew he couldn't do it by and of himself. He placed everything in God's hands and constantly sought the guidance of the Holy Ghost. Thus, in the hands of God, Leo became a powerful instrument to protect and honor the Church during the decay of the Roman Empire, the assaults of Arians, and the invasions of heathens.
Three years into his papacy Leo convened an assembly to rebuke and endorse Pope Innocent I's condemnation of Manicheanism as well as exposing Nestorianism, Priscillianism, and Arianism. Just as the eleven Doctors of the Church who preceded him fought with every fiber of their being the heresies prevalent in their time, so also Leo was a champion 'hammer of heretics.'
In 451 Leo called the Fourth General or Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon where he staunchly defended the Incarnation, defining in his Tome the revealed teaching of faith that in Christ there are two distinct natures, the divine and the human, hypostatically united in one person. He also condemned the heresy of Eutyches. But the Byzantine Court did not convey his words to the people and the heresy grew stronger among the Eastern monks and bishops. This made it necessary for Leo to convene the Fifth Ecumenical Council, this time at Constantinople where he condemned in no uncertain terms the Three Chapters or heresies running rampant. He thus became the only Pontiff to call two ecumenical councils. He garnered the signatures of all the Bishops, proclaiming "Peter has spoken by Leo." He admonished his bishops to know their faith and to assure that their priests in each diocese were knowledgable in Dogma and Doctrine so that the people would not fall into the heresies that had assaulted the Church during the Third, Fourth and Fifth Centuries.
Leo not only assured unity within ecclesiastical ranks, but re-established harmony among the faithful. He is called "great" because of his energetic work in maintaining unity, his involvement in the liturgy, politics, preaching and writings, which have been cherished and passed on through the ages. He never compromised, never catered to worldly issues, but kept always before the people the Truths and Traditions of Holy Mother Church as the guiding light for all society. If ever we needed a Pope Leo it is in these times at the dawn of the third millennium.
To many historians his greatest accomplishment came in 451. The year before a barbaric horde known as the Huns had overrun the Empire, pillaging and plundering Gaul and moving rapidly from the north through Italy to the gates of Rome. Fearing no man, Leo chose to meet their ferocious leader Attila face to face at the gates. Many felt it was suicide and that Rome's fall was a fait accomplis, but Leo knew God would protect him and so he bravely confronted the pagan king at the gates of Rome, pursuading Attila to abandon his plans to sack the city. To everyone's astonishment the man known as the "Scourge of God" rounded up his horde and turned away from Rome. It was another in the many encounters down through the centuries where, through the grace of God, a superior force is turned away, evidence David slaying Goliath, the victory at Lepanto, Saint Clare holding aloft the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance to protect the city, and many more such cases where the power of God was manifested. Leo took very seriously his charge handed down from St. Peter to rule Christ's Church as Christ instructed. Leo knew it was not him who convinced Attila to forego his attempts on Rome, but the miraculous vision God allowed Attila to behold of Saints Peter and Paul standing behind Leo. The "Scourge of God" knew that any power this great was not to be messed with or he would be scourged by God, and so, totally overcome mentally by the vision he had seen, he retreated. It was the end of the threat so feared throughout Europe as the Hun king died two years later while Leo ruled another ten years, 21 in all, receiving his Heavenly reward on September 10, 461.
In 1754 St. Leo was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XIV, honoring this great Pope for his great writings and wisdom at a pivotal time in Church and world history. He had shown great courage and his skills at governing the Church and emphasizing spirituality while juggling the political footballs of his time. His actions strengthened the Vatican's position in the world while bringing the people to a closer understanding of what Jesus meant in His words to Peter in Matthew 16: 18-19, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven."
Leo's feast day in the universal Church was established as April 11 until the revised liturgy relegated his feast day to November 10th. His commemoration has always been celebrated in the eastern Church on February 18th.
Greetings to you on this feast day for St. Leo the Great.
St. Leo, truly the Great, in repelling Attila from the door to Europe with the force of Almighty God. What a different world it would be today without St. Leo. We cannot even imagine what Rome and Europe would have been under the thumb of Attila the Barbarian, at 500 AD...
On the Traditional Calendar, the one used for TLM his feast day is today.
"Leo's feast day in the universal Church was established as April 11 until the revised liturgy relegated his feast day to November 10th."
Did you even check the links?
"I believe you are mistaken in your title."
No, it is you, Salvation, who is mistaken. April 11 is the feast day St. Leo I.
"In the Latin Church the feast day of the great pope is held on 11 April," http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09154b.htm
November 10, 2004
St. Leo the Great
With apparent strong conviction of the importance of the Bishop of Rome in the Church, and of the Church as the ongoing sign of Christs presence in the world, Leo the Great displayed endless dedication in his role as pope. Elected in 440, he worked tirelessly as "Peters successor," guiding his fellow bishops as "equals in the episcopacy and infirmities."
Leo is known as one of the best administrative popes of the ancient Church. His work branched into four main areas, indicative of his notion of the popes total responsibility for the flock of Christ. He worked at length to control the heresies of Pelagianism, Manichaeism and others, placing demands on their followers so as to secure true Christian beliefs. A second major area of his concern was doctrinal controversy in the Church in the East, to which he responded with a classic letter setting down the Churchs teaching on the nature of Christ. With strong faith, he also led the defense of Rome against barbarian attack, taking the role of peacemaker.
In these three areas, Leos work has been highly regarded. His growth to sainthood has its basis in the spiritual depth with which he approached the pastoral care of his people, which was the fourth focus of his work. He is known for his spiritually profound sermons. An instrument of the call to holiness, well-versed in Scripture and ecclesiastical awareness, Leo had the ability to reach the everyday needs and interests of his people. One of his Christmas sermons is still famous today.
FR Thread: April 11 - Memorial of St. Gemma Galgani
I view all your sources, including your USCCB New American Bible, to be worthless.
And apparently you view my source, the Catholic Encyclopedia, to be worthless as well.
So be it. At least I don't ping the Religion Moderator every other post.
It would appear that now his feast is celebrated on November 10th. But that it has also been on the date of April 11th. I think both of your sources speak to that fact. Grey Ghost uses the Catholic Encylopedia to show that St. Leo the Great's feast was 11 April. Salvation uses EWTN and a few others to show that as of this day the feast is on the 10 November. Let there be peace, especially when discussing saints.
I find it odd, that you do not realize that the Traditional Catholic Calendar is not the same as the Novus Ordo Calendar. Have you not ever noticed the readings and feast days you post to be different from the ones posted by AAABEST for Sundays?
My traditional missal, my traditional Catholic calendar and my link to the DailyCatholic.org, which posts the proper for the daily mass every day are all in agreement. See for yourself :
I honestly don't know why you are going on about it so.
I'm not an "American Cathlic". I'm a Roman Catholic.
Don't you realize what you did? You inadvertantly created a measuring stick on what attributes a Pope titled "The Great" has. We are not allowed to do that in this enlightened age.
Another little tidbit of information that many non-traditionally minded Catholics may not know is that the Old Calendar was (and is)wrapped up intrinsically with the Mass. All of the readings are connected to the Feast of the particular saint mentioned. Today is Leo's feast so accordingly, all of the readings are reminders of the mission of the papacy, the establishment of it and the proper role of the Shepherds particularly the Chief Shepherd.
Fr Reginald Foster, O.C.D. is 'the Pope's Latinist.' His page at Vatican Radio (at the local FM station pages, not the worldwide shortwave station pages) is The Latin Lover.
Fr Foster reads some sermons by Pope St Leo the Great, in Latin, with the mp3 audio files, the Latin words and the English translations at Sancti Leonis Magni Tractatus (Sermons of Pope St. Leo the Great), on one of Fr Gary Coulter's pages.
The Vatican's FM station has a podcast, also, through feedburner.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.