Saint Leo the Great, also known as Pope Saint Leo I, was born into a Roman aristocratic family. He was one of the greatest popes of Christian history and was the first pope to be given the title “the Great.”
St. Leo the Great became a very well-known deacon of the Church by 431. He was often sent out to settle both secular and theological disputes.
In 440, Leo was unanimously elected as the next pope to succeed Pope Sixtus III.
Pope Leo saw himself as privileged to sit in the Chair of St Peter and worked diligently as “Peter’s successor.” Over time, Leo became known as one of the best administrative popes of the ancient Church. During his reign, he fought to preserve the unity of the Church and its faith.
Pope Leo I continuously worked to oppose and root out numerous heresies threatening the Western Church, including Pelagianism and Manichaeism.
He wrote a letter setting down the Church’s official teaching on Jesus Christ as One Person with a human and a divine nature that could not be separated. To this day, Leo’s letter is praised, not only for bringing peace, but for preserving the fullness of Christian truth and doctrine.
Along with his dynamic faith and outstanding theological wisdom, Pope Leo I was courageous. He led Rome’s defense against Attila the Hun’s barbarian invasion on Italy in 452, by taking on the role of peacemaker.
Pope Leo I was renowned for his profoundly spiritual sermons. Nearly 100 sermons and 150 letters of Leo I have been preserved.
Leo died on November 10, 461, and wished to be buried as close as possible to St. Peter’s tomb.
In 1754, Pope Benedict XIV proclaimed Leo I a Doctor of the Church. Pope Leo I faithfully held to the belief that everything he did and said as pope represented Jesus Christ, and St. Peter. His feast day is celebrated on November 10.