Here’s my post for the Evangelium Institute Blog on the Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great.

Pope St. Leo the Great died on this day in 461 AD after being pope for 21 years. He was and is considered “great” for his pastoral care of his people through adept diplomacy, teaching, and charity. It’s because of his encouragement to us to be charitable that makes him “great” in my book.

Regarding diplomacy, by 455 AD Attila the Hun drove his nomadic horsemen across the Danube from Central Asia and through Hungary, deep into Roman territory, sacking parts of Gaul then Pavia and Milan, and driving all the way to Rome. Terrified, the Roman political leaders begged Leo to go and meet the “barbarian” from the East. Pope Leo did so, approaching the Hun and his hordes in a simple but regal manner.

According to one account Attila was so impressed by the pope that he decided not to invade. Another later account includes Pope Leo giving a fiery speech as Saints Peter and Paul appeared flanking Pope Leo and threatening Attila. In truth, Pope Leo negotiated a financial tribute to the Huns that spared the people of Rome and the Church. It is written that Pope Leo did this without hesitation, showing no fear, and confident that all would be well. The gates of hell shall not prevail, after all.

Regarding Church teaching,…

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