ST. LEO THE GREAT
FEAST DAY: NOVEMBER 10TH
LEO was born at Rome. He embraced the sacred ministry,
was made archdeacon of the Roman Church by St. Celestine, and under him and Sixtus III. had a large share in
governing the Church. On the death of Sixtus, Leo was chosen
Pope, and consecrated on St. Michael's day, 440, amid great joy.
It was a time of terrible trial. Vandals and Huns were wasting
the provinces of the empire, and Nestorians, Pelagians, and other
heretics wrought more grievous havoc among souls. Whilst Leo's
zeal made head against these perils, there arose the new heresy of
Eutyches, who confounded the two natures of Christ. At once the vigilant pastor
proclaimed the true doctrine of the Incarnation in his famous "tome;" but
fostered by the Byzantine court, the heresy gained a strong hold amongst the
Eastern monks and bishops. After three years of unceasing toil, Leo brought
about its solemn condemnation by the Council of Chalcedon, the Fathers all
signing his tome, and exclaiming, "Peter hath spoken by Leo." Soon after,
Attila with his Huns broke into Italy, and marched through its burning cities
upon Rome. Leo went out boldly to meet him, and prevailed on him to turn back.
Astonished to see the terrible Attila, the " Scourge of God," fresh from the
sack of Aquileia, Milan, Pavia, with the rich prize of Rome within his grasp,
turn his great host back to the Danube at the Saint's word,
his chiefs asked him why he had acted so strangely. He answered that he saw two
venerable personages, supposed to be SS. Peter and Paul, standing behind Leo,
and impressed by this vision he withdrew. If the perils of the Church are as
great now as in St. Leo's day, St. Peter's solicitude is not less. Two years
later the city fell a prey to the Vandals; but even then Leo saved it from
destruction. He died A.D. 461, having ruled the Church twenty years.
REFLECTION.óLeo loved to ascribe all the fruits of his unsparing labors to the glorious chief of the Apostles, who, he often declared, lives and governs, in his successors.