Leo I., St.

, surnamed The Great, a doctor of the church, and one of the most eminent popes who have filled the Roman see, was born in Tuscany, or rather at Rome. He made himself very useful to the church under pope St. Celestine, and Sixtus III. and was concerned in all important affairs while but a deacon. The Roman clergy recalled him from Gaul, whither he was gone to reconcile Albums and Ætius, generals of the army, and raised him to the papal chair Sept. 1, 440. He condemned the Manicheans, in a council held at Rome in the year 444, and completely extirpated the remains of the Pelagian heresy in Italy: “Let those | Pelagians,” said he, “who return to the church, declare by a clear and public profession, that they condemn the authors of their heresy, that they detest that part of their doctrine which the universal church has beheld with horror, and that they receive all such decrees of the councils as have been passed for exterminating the Pelagian heresy, and are confirmed by the authority of the apostolical see, acknowledging by a clear and full declaration, signed by their hand, that they admit these decrees, and approve them in every thing,Leo also condemned the Priscillianists, and annulled all the proceedings in the council of Ephesus, which was called “the band of Ephesian robbers,” in the year 449. He presided by his legates at the general council of Chalcedon, in the year 451, but opposed the canon made there in favour of the church of Constantinople, which gave it the second rank, to the prejudice of that at Alexandria. The letter which Leo had written to Flavian us on the mystery of the Incarnation, was received with acclamations in this council, and the errors of Eutyches and Dioscorus condemned. The following year he went to meet Attila, king of the Huns, who was advancing to Rome, and addressed him with so much eloquence that he was prevailed upon to return home. Genseric having taken Rome, in the year 455, Leo obtained from that barbarous prince, that his soldiers should not set fire to the city, and saved the three grand churches (which Constantine had enriched with magnificent gifts) from being plundered. He was a strict observer of ecclesiastical discipline. He died November 3, in the year 461, at Rome. Never has the Romish church appeared with more true grandeur, or less pomp, than in this pontiff’s time; no pope was ever more honoured, esteemed, and respected; no pope ever displayed more humility, wisdom, mildness, and charity. Leo left ninety-six: “Sermons,” on the principal festivals throughout the year, and one hundred and forty-one Letters, which may be found in the library of the fathers. The best edition of his works is that by Pere Quesnel, Lyons, 1700, fol. They have been printed at Rome, by father Cacciaci, 3 vols. fol. and at Venice, by Messrs. Ballarimi, 3 vols. fol. but these editions have not sunk the credit of Quesnel’s. P. Maimbourg has written a history of his pontificate, 4to, or 2 vols. 12mo. 1

1 Cave, vol. I. Milner’s Church Hist. vol. II. p. 539. —Dict. Hist.