St. Leo the Great

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By Catholic Digest Staff


St. Leo the Great
Feast Day: November 10


In the long history of the Church, there are only three popes who have ever earned the title “Great,” and Leo was the first one. A man with “boundless energy,” a compassionate heart, and a formidable sense of duty, even as a young papal advisor Leo’s concerns reached well beyond the walls of Rome. When a quarrel between a governor and the commander-in-chief of the Praetorian Guard threatened Gaul’s defense against the barbarians, Leo was quickly dispatched to mediate between the two. He considered not merely Italy but also Africa, Gaul, and Spain important parts of the Church. He was the first to refine the concept that the Bishop of Rome was the titled heir of Saint Peter and his Christ-given authority, becoming known for putting rebellious bishops back into their place. Leo’s love for the Church and keen intellect gave him the foresight to view ideas and proposals in their entirety, including how they would affect the future. Leo clearly and elegantly outlined that Jesus Christ is one person in whom two natures, divine and human, are united. Leo called the Council of Chalcedon, where his viewpoint was well received, with those in attendance proclaiming that, “Peter has spoken through the mouth of Leo.” On one occasion in 452, Leo even convinced Attila the Hun to not sack Rome.

Catholic Digest Staff