On 10 November 461 Leo, Bishop of Rome, died. He was a peacemaker in a very troubled time. In 440 Leo was in Gaul settling a dispute between two Roman generals whose actions were endangering the safety of Gaul due to the growing barbarian threat when he learned that he had been elected bishop of Rome. His peacemaking skills were called upon during the next 20 years especially in 452 when Attila, leader of the Huns, threatened to sack Rome, and then in 455 when Genseric, the North African king of the Vandals and the Alani, conquered and sacked Rome. Leo used the wealth of the church to minister to the survivors and to ransom captives.
Being a peacemaker, Leo tried to heal divisive situations in the life of the church. During his time the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity disagreed over doctrine and which bishop was preeminent. In 451 at the Council of Chalcedon Leo was able to bring the two groups together in agreeing theologically about the person of Christ being both human and divine without either nature being diminished in the presence of the other. Sadly, the Council, was unable to resolve the political issues which led to East-West separation.
Today, we thank God for Leo the Great.
Bible Reading: Philippians 2: 1-13, Matthew 16:13-19