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Pope St. Leo the Great

Saint Leo the Great

Pope, Confessor & Doctor of the Church

Leo was born to a Tuscan noble family, in the late fourth or early fifth century. He served as archdeacon of Rome before becoming Pope in 440, succeeding St. Sixtus III. Leo took effective measures against heresy, reinforced ecclesiastical discipline, confirmed the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon, and asserted the ultimate authority of the papacy. He clashed with the future St. Hilary of Arles over the authority of local bishops, but the conflict was eventually resolved, and it was Leo who declared Hilary to be “of blessed memory” upon his death. When Attila the Hun invaded Italy in 452 and marched on Rome, Leo left the city to negotiate with the infamous warlord. As the humble pontiff pleaded for peace, Attila beheld a vision of Ss. Peter and Paul prepared to defend the city. The Hun withdrew his forces, and died within a year. Leo’s diplomacy also spared much of Rome from the Vandals a few years later. Leo died in the year of Our Lord 461, leaving numerous writings and a legacy matched by few other pontiffs. He and St. Gregory the Great are the only popes honored as doctors of the Church. He is celebrated on November 10th in the modern calendar.


Traditional Roman Martyrology for April 11th

AT Rome, St. Leo, pope and confessor, who was sur named the Great on account of his extraordinary merits. He gave the seal of his authority to the holy council of Chalcedon, which was held in his time and which condemned Eutyches through his legates. After having merited the gratitude of the Church of God and the whole flock of Christ by the many decrees which he issued and the many excellent treatises which he wrote, this good and zealous shepherd rested in peace.

At Pergamus, in Asia, St. Antipas, a faithful witness, of whom St. John speaks in the Apocalypse. Under the emperor Domitian, he was shut up in a red-hot brazen ox, and thus consummated his martyrdom.

At Salona, in Dalmatia, the holy martyrs Domnion, a bishop, and eight soldiers.

At Gortina, in Crete, in the time of Marcus Antoninus Verus and Lucius Aurelius Commodus, St. Philip, a bishop most renowned for merit and doctrine, who defended the church entrusted to his care against the fury of the Gentiles, and the wiles of the heretics.

At Nicomedia, St. Eustorgius, a priest.

At Spoleto, St. Isaac, monk and confessor, whose virtues are recorded by pope St. Gregory.

At Gaza, in Palestine, St. Barsanuphius, an anchoret, in the time of the emperor Justinian.

℣. And elsewhere many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.

℟. Thanks be to God.

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