Saint of the Day for 10 November: St. Leo the Great
St. Leo the Great: the pope who saved Rome from the invasion of the Goths
St. Leo the Great
Pope and Doctor of the Church
390 approx., Tuscany
November 10, 461, Rome
O glorious our protector elected to be an instrument of goodness turn benignly your gaze upon the devotees who implore your holy intercession. We beseech thee to have mercy on us and to obtain for us from God the graces that best respond to the spiritual good of our souls. You who have preached the unity and common dignity of us Christians grant that we may become “living stones” that build up the Church of God. Amen.
Patron Saint of
Manta, Sperlonga, Cenate Sopra, Ruviano, Margarita, Cairano
Memory of St. Leo I, pope and doctor of the Church: born in Tuscany, he was first in Rome a diligent deacon and then, elevated to the chair of Peter, rightly deserved the appellation of Magnus both for having nourished the flock entrusted to him with his refined and wise word and for having strenuously upheld through his legates at the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon the righteous doctrine on the incarnation of God. He rested in the Lord in Rome, where on this day he was laid to rest near St. Peter.
The Saint and Mission
St. Leo the Great, one of the most important pontiffs of the Catholic Church and a Doctor of the Church, left an indelible mark on Christian history, not only for his diplomatic skills and for safeguarding the city of Rome from barbarian invasions, but also for his incisive influence on doctrinal definition, especially in relation to the Christology of the Council of Chalcedon.
His mission, at a time of great political and religious turbulence, was multifaceted. Leo found himself mediating conflicts, both internal and external to the Church, ensuring the protection of Rome and establishing papal authority as a moral and spiritual point of reference for the West. This diplomatic action was rooted in a deep conviction of the supremacy of the role of the bishop of Rome, seen not as aspirations for earthly power but as service to the preservation and spread of the Christian faith.
His letter to Flavian, known as “Tome to Flavian,” was fundamental to the Council of Chalcedon, establishing the doctrine of Christ’s two natures, divine and human, in a single person. This theological position helped shape the heart of the Christian understanding of Jesus and shows how Leo’s mission was intrinsically linked to the defense and clarification of the faith.
Moreover, his numerous sermons and theological writings guided the church through times of uncertainty and change, nurturing the spiritual life of the faithful and strengthening the foundations of Christian doctrine. His pastoral dedication, aimed at growing believers in the understanding and experience of their faith, shines through in these works, a goal that fit perfectly with his vision of the Church’s mission as a moral guide and a place of welcome and salvation.
St. Leo the Great, therefore, embodies the figure of the leader who, with wisdom and dedication, navigates the complex currents of his time, always keeping the Gospel mission and the spiritual well-being of God’s people at the center. Through his example, he reminds us that the Church’s mission transcends the temporal realm to touch the eternal, and that every action, great or small, is a building block in the construction of God’s kingdom.
The Saint and Mercy
The figure of St. Leo the Great stands out in Church history as a giant of faith and a champion of mercy. Beyond his theological victories and political achievements, what makes him particularly memorable is his unconditional commitment to Christian mercy, which he embodied and spread through his actions and teachings.
As pope, Leo was faced with a society divided and plagued by war and poverty. In these circumstances, he did not limit himself to an administrative or dogmatic role, but immersed himself in the social fabric, paying special attention to the needs of the less fortunate. His mercy translated into concrete acts of help and support, such as when he intervened to strengthen the distribution of resources to the poor of Rome and when he persuaded Attila to desist from besieging the city, thus saving countless lives.
St. Leo’s mercy, however, was not simply philanthropic; it was deeply theological. For him, the heart of the Christian faith was the love of God manifested in Christ, a love that was to be reflected in the Christian through acts of mercy and compassion. In his sermons and writings, he often urged the faithful to live according to the spirit of the Beatitudes, highlighting how mercy was both a virtue received from God’s grace and an imperative for every Christian.
In his role as pastor of souls, therefore, Leo showed special solicitude toward the spiritual dimension of mercy. The absolution and reconciliation of sinners were essential expressions of the Petrine ministry for him, highlighting how the Church was to be a beacon of hope and a refuge for those seeking forgiveness and renewal.
St. Leo the Great thus leaves us a legacy of mercy that transcends the ages: his life teaches us that the measure of any Christian institution, and particularly the papal ministry, is how effectively it reflects the mercy of Christ. His dedication spurs us to recognize in every gesture of goodness, great or small, an echo of God’s merciful love for humanity.
S. Leo lived in the first half of the fortunate century v, which saw the dissolution and final collapse of the empire of the Caesars, and the marvelous effects of the Catholic pontificate, which transformed and launched Europe in those iron centuries to Christian civilization.
Born in Tuscany, but educated in the Eternal City, he revealed from the beginning an uncommon ingenuity, an ingenuity that he applied with all the vigor of his virginal youth to sacred science.
For the high doctrine he soon attained and for his zeal, he was dear to Pope St. Celestine I, who created him archdeacon: he was esteemed by the people and…