LEO I, the Great 
  (d. 461)
 

 


Transfiguration is anticipation of our transformation §51; Contemplation of Nature and Our Nature §27Brightness is joy or torment §95; Resurrection: glorification of our nature: wounds heal our unbelief: §72; Lenten Homilies used by St. Benedict: §39,  §42,  §88;


LEO I, (d. 461), ‘Leo the Great’, Pope from 440. Little is known of his early life beyond the fact that as a Roman deacon he opposed Pelagianism. His Papacy is remarkable chiefly through the enormous extent to which he advanced and consolidated the influence of the Roman see. At a time of general disorder he sought to strengthen the Church by energetic central government, based on a firm belief that the supremacy of his see was of Divine and Scriptural authority, and he pressed his claims to jurisdiction in Africa, Spain, and Gaul. He also secured from Valentinian III a rescript which recognized his jurisdiction over all the West provinces.

Though his jurisdiction was not recognized in the East, he was drawn into Eastern affairs by the Eutychian controversy, and his support was coveted by all parties. His legates spoke first at the Council of Chalcedon (451), where his Tome (449) was accepted as a standard of Christological orthodoxy.

In the political sphere he also much increased Papal prestige by persuading the Huns to withdraw beyond the Danube (452) and securing concessions when the Vandals took Rome (455). Doctrinally Leo was clear and forcible, but not profound. He knew no Greek. 143 genuine letters and some 97 sermons have survived. The latter cover the whole ecclesiastical year; they provide important evidence of contemporary liturgical practices (e.g. the observance of four sets of fast days, later known as Ember Days) and reveal a remarkable grasp of liturgical principles. Both his letters and his sermons are distinguished by clarity of thought and purity of language. Mainly on grounds of style, many scholars have claimed to detect his hand in some of the prayers in the so-called Leonine and Gelasian Sacramentaries. He was declared a ‘Doctor of the Church’ by Benedict XIV. Feast day, in the East, 18 Feb.; in the West, 10 Nov. (formerly 2. Apr.).


Works ed. P. Quesnel (2 vols., Paris, 1675; strongly Gallicanist) and by P. and H. Ballerini (3 vols., Venice, 1753–7, with replies to Quesnel’s Disquisitions from the Ultramontane standpoint); both deservedly famous patristic edns. The latter is repr. in J. P. Migne, PL 54–6. Modern crit. edn. of Leo’s Epistles in E. Schwartz, ACO 2. 4 (1932). Eng. tr. of Letters by C. L. Feltoe (1896). Migne text of sermons repr., with two further sermons, Fr. tr. and notes by R. Dolle, OSB (SC 22, 49, 74, 200; [1947]–1973); crit. edn. of sermons by A. Chavasse (CCSL 138 and 138A; 1973); Eng. tr. by J. P. Freeland, CSJB, and A. J. Conway, SSJ (Fathers of the Church, 93; Washington, DC [1996]). T. [G.] Jalland, The Life and Times of St Leo the Great (1941). A. P. Lang, Leo der Grosse und die Texte des Altgelasianums (1957). M. B. de Soos, OSB, Le Mystère liturgique d’après saint Léon le Grand (Liturgiewissenschaftliche Quellen und Forschungen, 34; 1958). P. Stockmeier, Leo I des Grossen Beurteilung der kaiserlichen Religionspolitik (Münchner Theologische Studien, 1. Historische Abteilung, 14; 1959). P. A. McShane, La Romanitas et le pape Léon le Grand: L’apport culturel des institutions impériales à la formation des structures ecclésiastiques (1979). S. O. Horn, Petrou Kathedra: Der Bishof von Rom und die Synoden von Ephesus (449) und Chalcedon (Konfessionskundliche und Kontroverstheologische Studien, 45; Paderborn, 1982). S. Pietrini, Religio e Ius Romanum nell’epistolario di Leone Magno (Materiale per una Palingenesi delle Costituzioni Tardo-Imperiali, I. 6; 2002). W. Ullmann, ‘Leo I and the Theme of Papal Primacy’, JTS NS II (1960), pp. 25–51. B. Studer in J. Quasten (cont.), Patrology, 4 (1986), pp. 589–612, with bibl. P. Batiffol in DTC 9 (pt. 1; 1926), cols. 218–301; B. Studer [OSB] in TRE 20 (1990), pp. 737–41, s.v.; C. Fraisse-Coué in P. Levillain (ed.), The Papacy: An Encyclopedia, 2 (2002), pp. 913–19; F. X. Murphy in NCE (2nd edn.), 8 (2003), pp. 474–8.


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