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St. Leo the Great: Letters

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As the vestiges of the Roman political machine began to collapse in the fifth century AD, the towering figure of Pope St. Leo the Great came into relief amid the rubble. Sustained by an immutable doctrine transcending institutions and cultures, the Church alone emerged from the chaos. Eventually, the Roman heritage became assimilated into Christianity and ceased to have a life of its own. It would be practically impossible to understand this monumental transition from Roman world to Christendom without taking into account the pivotal role played by Leo—and not the emperor—who went out to confront Attila and Hun. It was Leo who once averted and on another occasion mitigated the ravages of barbarian incursions.

As significant as his contribution was to history, Leo had an even greater impact on theology. When partisans of the monophysite heresy had through various machinations predetermined the outcome of a council held at Ephesus in 450, Leo immediately denounced it as a latrocinium (robbery) rather than a concilium (council). A year later—with cries of “Peter has spoken through Leo!”—the ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, a pillar of Catholic Christianity, adopted in its resounding condemnation of monophysitism the very language formulated by Leo. Pope Leo also developed the most explicit and detailed affirmations known up to that time of the prerogatives enjoyed by successors if St. Peter. Many theological principles find their clearest, and certainly their most eloquent, expression in his sermons.

Leo spoke with all the refinement of a Roman orator, without the pagan trappings, and thus epitomized a Christian appropriation of the classical heritage. In the midst of it all, however, Pope St. Leo thought of himself simply as the humble servant of those entrusted to his care.

For The Fathers of the Church series in its entirety, see Fathers of the Church Series (127 vols.).

Key Features

  • Record of Pope Leo’s theology
  • Provides background on Leo’s papacy and influence
  • One of 127 published volumes in a well-respected series on the Church Fathers

Top Highlights

“It was Peter who, through the revelation of the Father, professed that Christ and the Son of God were the same. For to have possessed one of these without the other was of no value for salvation; it was equally dangerous to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ was either God only without man, or man only without God.” (Pages 100–101)

“28. Bishop Leo, to his dearly beloved brother, Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople (June 13, 449).” (Page 92)

“this preservation, then, of the real quality of both natures, both being united in one person” (Page 95)

“This was to show us that there remained in Him the particular qualities of both the divine and human natures, and that we might thus realize that the Word is not the same as the flesh and might therefore confess that the one Son of God is both the Word and flesh.” (Page 101)

“Both His natures keep their intrinsic quality without defect; and, just as the aspect of God does not remove the aspect of servitude, so also this latter does not lessen the aspect of God.” (Page 96)

  • Title: St. Leo the Great: Letters
  • Author: Pope Saint Leo I
  • Series: The Fathers of the Church
  • Volume: 34
  • Publisher: Fathers of the Church
  • Print Publication Date: 1957
  • Logos Release Date: 2014
  • Pages: 312
  • Era: era:nicene
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Leo I, Pope, -461; Letters, Papal
  • ISBNs: 0813214033, 9780813214030
  • Resource ID: LLS:LETTERS
  • Resource Type: text.monograph.letters
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2024-03-25T20:12:25Z

Pope Leo I (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.


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    Digital list price: $34.99
    Save $7.00 (20%)