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Pope Saint Leo the Great

Doctor of the Church’s Unity

LEO THE GREAT

Public Domain

Doctor of the Church (336-461)

His life

+ Leo was born in Tuscany and was ordained a deacon while still a young man. He made a name for himself by serving as an advisor to Pope Saint Celestine I and Pope Sixtus III. He was elected pope in 440, while on a peace-keeping mission to Gaul.

+ Described as a man of boundless energy and a large heart, he had a strong sense of duty and worked to increase the prestige and influence of the Church of Rome. He was anxious to ensure that Christians throughout the world believed and practiced the same ways.

+ Pope Leo confirmed the teachings on the Incarnation of Jesus in his writings against certain heretical groups.

+ He was influential in secular politics and showed great courage when he faced the armies of Atilla the Hun, ultimately helping to save the city of Rome from destruction.

+ Saint Leo the Great died on November 10, 461, and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1754 and was honored as the “Doctor of the Church’s Unity” because his theological writings combated heresies plaguing the Church in his time.

For Reflection

The Lord established for him a covenant of peace, and him the prince, that he might have the dignity of the priesthood forever.”—Entrance Antiphon for the Memorial of Saint Leo the Great (cf. Sirach 45:30)

Prayer

O God, who never allow the gates of hell

to prevail against your Church,

firmly founded on the apostolic rock,

grant her, we pray,

that through the intercession of Pope Saint Leo,

she may stand firm in your truth

and know the protection of lasting peace.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Roman Missal)

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

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