Pope Leo I

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Pope Leo I or Pope Saint Leo the Great (ca. 400 – November 10, 461) was pope from September 29, 440 to his death.

He was an Italian aristocrat, and is the first pope of the Catholic Church to have been called "the Great". He is perhaps best known for having met Attila the Hun in 452, persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy. He is also a doctor of the Church.


Early life

According to the Liber Pontificalis, he was a native of Tuscany. By 431, as a deacon, he occupied a sufficiently important position for Cyril of Alexandria to apply to him in order that Rome's influence should be thrown against the claims of Juvenal of Jerusalem to patriarchal jurisdiction over Palestine—unless this letter is addressed rather to Pope Celestine I. About the same time John Cassian dedicated to him the treatise against Nestorius written at his request. But nothing shows more plainly the confidence felt in him than his being chosen by the emperor to settle the dispute between Aëtius and Albinus, the two highest officials in Gaul.

During his absence on this mission, Pope Sixtus III died (August 11, 440), and Leo was unanimously elected by the people to succeed him. On September 29 he entered upon a pontificate which was to be epoch-making for the centralization of the government of the Roman Church.

Papal authority

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