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Saint of the Day: Pope Saint Leo IX

Known as the “Pilgrim Pope”


Public Domain

Reformer (1002-1054)

His life

+ Bruno was born in Eguisheim, France, and was the son of a noble family. After becoming a canon of chapter of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Toul, France, he was ordained a deacon.

+ Entering military service in the imperial army, he was named bishop of Toul while still a soldier. A successful soldier and diplomat, he also shoed himself to be a bishop dedicated to reform.

+ In 1049, he was elected pope, taking the name Leo IX.

+ As pope, Leo expanded his work of reform to the entire church. Not only did he work to fight simony (the buying and selling of church offices) and imposing clerical celibacy, he also promoted the education of the clergy and liturgical reforms.

+ Leo came to be known as the “Pilgrim Pope” because of his extensive travels throughout Europe. Pope Leo approved the consecration of the first native bishop of Iceland and helped broker peace in a war-torn Hungary. He also proposed that the pope be elected only by cardinals, helping remove secular influences from papal elections.

+ The legacy of Leo IX is marred, however, by his continued military campaigns, during which he led troops into battle himself. He was captured during a battle in Civitella, Italy, and several months imprisonment in Benevento.

+ Pope Saint Leo IX died on April 19, 1054, and was canonized in 1082, by his friend and former advisor Pope Saint Gregory VII.

For prayer and reflection

I exhort the presbyters among you, as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed. Tend the flock of God in your midst, [overseeing] not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.”—1 Peter 5:1-2


Almighty ever-living God, who chose blessed Leo IX to preside over your whole people and benefit them by word and example, keep safe, we pray, by his intercession, the shepherds of your Church along with the flocks entrusted to their care, and direct them in the way of eternal salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Roman Missal: Common of Pastors—For a Pope)

Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.

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