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Leo III
Leo III Mosaic.jpg
Papacy began December 27, 795
Papacy ended June 12, 816
Predecessor Adrian I
Successor Stephen IV
Personal details
Birth name Unknown
Born Date of birth unknown
Rome, Italy
Died June 12, 816
Place of death unknown
Other Popes named Leo

Pope Saint Leo III (died June 12, 816) was Pope from 795 to his death in 816. Protected by Charlemagne from his enemies in Rome, he subsequently strengthened Charlemagne's position by crowning him as Roman Emperor.

Leo, who came from a common-folk background, had risen in the hierarchy of Rome and was elected Pope only one day after the burial of his predecessor, Pope Adrian I, who had worked for good relations between Rome and the Frankish Empire under Charlemagne. Leo announced his election to Charlemagne, sending him the keys of Saint Peter's tomb and the banner of Rome, requesting an envoy. Charlemagne in his reply stated that it was his function to defend the church, and the popes' to pray for the realm and for victory of the army.

Leo aroused the hostility of Rome's nobility, who saw the papal post as reserved for noble candidates. During his rule he was accused of adultery and perjury. In April 799 he was attacked by a gang, who unsuccessfully attempted to gouge out his eyes and cut off his tongue for his earlier actions, only to be saved by Magnus Forteman and 700 Frisian nobles of his army. He was then formally deposed and sent to a monastery, but escaped and made his way to Paderborn, where he met Charlemagne.

Charlemagne ordered Leo's enemies to Paderborn, but no decision could be found. He then had Leo escorted back to Rome. In November 800 Charlemagne himself went to Rome, and on December 1 held a council there with representatives of both sides. Leo, on December 23, took an oath of purgation concerning the charges brought against him, and his opponents were exiled.

Two days later, on Christmas Day 800, Leo crowned Charlemagne as Roman emperor. This offended Constantinople, which had traditionally been seen as the defender of Rome, but the Eastern Roman Empress Irene of Athens was too weak to oppose Charlemagne. Charlemagne was to intervene in church affairs, not always being successful.

Leo helped restore King Eardwulf of Northumbria, and settled various matters of dispute between the Archbishops of York and Canterbury. He also reversed the decision of his predecessor, Pope Adrian I, in regards to the granting of the pallium to the bishop of Lichfield, Higbert. He believed that the English episcopate had been misrepresented before Adrian and that therefore his act was invalid. In 803, Lichfield was a regular diocese again.

Leo forbade the addition of "filioque" to the Nicene Creed which was added by Franks in Aachen in 809. He also ordered that the Nicene creed be engraved on silver tablets so that his conclusion might not be overturned in the future. He wrote «HAEC LEO POSUI AMORE ET CAUTELA ORTHODOXAE FIDEI» (I, Leo, put here for love and protection of orthodox faith).[1]

The reasons for the coronation of Charlemagne, the involvement beforehand of the Frankish court, and the relationship to the Byzantine Empire are all matters of debate among historians. An effective administrator of the papal territories, Leo contributed to the beautification of Rome.

Leo III was canonized as saint in 1673 by Pope Clement X. His feast day was formerly June 12.

Burial

Leo was originally buried in his own monument. However, some years after his death, his remains were put into a tomb that contained the first four Pope Leos. In the 1700's Leo the Great's relics were separated from the other Leos and he was given his own chapel.[2]

References

  1. ^ Vita Leonis, Liber Pontificalis (Ed.Duchene, TII, p.26)
  2. ^ Reardon, Wendy (McFarland) (in English). The deaths of the Popes.. 
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Adrian I
Pope
795–816
Succeeded by
Stephen IV

External links

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Simple English

File:Leo III
Leo III

Leo III (died June 12, 816) was Pope from 795 to 816. He is famous for the coronation of Charlemagne as emperor in 800.

Leo reported his election to Charlemagne, sent him the keys of Saint Peter's tomb and the banner of Rome. Charlemagne replied that it was his function to defend the church and the Pope's to pray for the kingdom and for victory of the army.

Charlemagne went to Rome in November 800, and on December 1 held a council there with representatives of both sides. Leo, on December 23, took an oath of purgation concerning the charges brought against him, and his opponents were exiled. Two days later Leo crowned Charlemagne at St. Peter's tomb. Charlemagne did intervene in church affairs, not always successfully.

The reasons for the coronation, the involvement beforehand of the Frankish court, and the relationship to the Byzantine Empire are all matters of debate among historians.

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