Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hail, Saintly Pope and Doctor of the Church

                                     "Pope St. Leo the Great meeting Attila the Hun," by Raphael

Today the Church celebrates the feast of Pope Saint Leo the Great (d. 461 AD ).   St. Leo strove to maintain the unity of the Church, and therefore fought fearlessly and energetically against Manicheanism, Pelagianism and other major heresies besetting the Church of his day.  He was a loving pastor who was not deterred from exercising his rightful authority even when it brought St. Leo into serious conflict with such popular, powerful and holy churchmen as St. Hilary of Arles.  Finally, St. Leo possessed a moral authority which was so manifest and potent that he could persuade Attila the Hun not to march upon Rome but instead withdraw from the Italian peninsula.   Moreover, after the Vandals had plundered Rome, St. Leo also succeeded in persuading their leader, Genseric, not to harm the city and its people further.

The following is taken from a sermon of Pope St. Leo:

"Although the universal Church of God is constituted of distinct orders of members, still, in spite of the many parts of its holy body, the Church subsists as an integral whole, just as the Apostle says: We are all one in Christ.  No difference in office is so great that anyone can be separated, through lowliness, from the head.  In the unity of faith and baptism, therefore, our community is undivided.  There is a common dignity, as the apostle Peter says in these words: And you are built up as living stones into spiritual houses, a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  And again: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set apart."

 Pope St. Leo the Great, pray for us.

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