#118 - Pope Leo V
Pope from July/August 903 - Mid-September 903 OR February 904
Died: February 904
Give me the scoop on Leo V.
Leo V was a priest in Priapi, a city about 22 miles south of Rome. Elected around late July or early August 903, it’s thought that Leo was a compromise candidate chosen to satisfy the warring fans and opponents of Pope Formosus. Auxilius, a writer in Rome at that time, called Leo, “a man of God and of praiseworthy life and holiness.” Leo V was in office barely a month, when Christopher, a priest who apparently wasn’t a fan of non-Roman popes, overthrew him and claimed the title for himself. Christopher, of course, was by no means legitimate and is thus considered an antipope. Leo was imprisoned for the remainder of his life, eventually dying in February 904. The dispute of when his papacy ended depends on whether or not Leo consented (however begrudgingly) to being deposed by Christopher.
What was he known for?
Leo V was best known as being the first pope in over a century to not be a native of Rome, though he was still Italian by birth. The last non-Roman pope prior to Leo was perhaps St. Gregory III, who reigned from 731-741 and hailed from Syria.
It’s not much fun, but the circumstances of Leo’s death are nevertheless intriguing. Four months after Christopher usurped the papal throne, he himself was removed from office by angry Romans, who then placed Sergius III in the Chair of Peter instead. After being thrown out, Christopher was put in prison
with Leo V
by Pope Sergius. Though the truth of this is disputed, it’s said that Sergius then “took pity” on the two men and had them put to death. If true, it would be just the second time that a pope and antipope died together in prison, the first being
Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus
nearly 7 centuries earlier (235 A.D.).
Coming Tomorrow...Pope Sergius III
SOURCES (and further reading)
John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
Guruge, A. (2010). The Next Pope. New Hampshire: WOWNH
Pope Leo V -
Pope Leo V -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Tuesday, June 13, 2017 at 2:00AM