Popes in a Year
#152 - Pope St. Leo IX
Pope from February 12, 1049 - April 19, 1054
Lived: June 21, 1002 - April 19, 1054
Birth name: Bruno von Eguisheim-Dagsburg
Give me the scoop on Leo IX.
Born Bruno von Eguisheim, Pope St. Leo IX was the third-straight pope of German descent and the most prominent pontiff of German origin during the Middle Ages. His father was a first cousin to Emperor Conrad II, but despite being from the nobility both Bruno and his parents were reportedly models of the Christian life. As a boy, the young Bruno was both intelligent and holy, being a favorite among his fellow students for his gracious temperament. He would advance quickly through Church ranks both due to his closeness with Conrad and his personal piety, but nevertheless always sought obscurity. Bruno didn’t care one bit about notoriety -- a rare quality in clergy of that era.
Being one of two choices to succeed Pope Damasus II, Bruno practically played hide-and-seek with the emperor, the Germans, and the Romans who sought to elect the holy bishop. He finally accepted, was consecrated on February 12, 1049, and took the name Leo IX, but only after insisting that he be freely elected by the Roman people. Leo IX was a rockstar pope, wildly popular among the Christian faithful throughout Europe. He booked a Eurotour early on to hold several key meetings, then helped those in Southern Italy battle the Normans for much of the remainder of his pontificate. Reigning for barely five years, Leo died April 19, 1054, his feast day, and was buried in St. Peter’s Basilica. He was venerated as a saint from the day of his death.
What was he known for?
Pope St. Leo IX was best known for his dramatic back and forth with the ambitious Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Caerularius, that ultimately caused (officially) the Great Schism between East and West in July 1054. Michael, as part of his goal to have no boss in the Church or the state, had undertaken all sorts of mischief that really grinded Leo’s gears. Among them included closing all the Latin churches in Constantinople, which prompted Leo to write a strongly-worded letter to the prelate in 1053. After exchanging a couple more letters, Leo sent delegates to Constantinople to try and resolve the situation, but none could be accomplished. It didn’t help that Leo’s papal legate, Humbert, was a bit arrogant in his diplomacy.
When Pope St. Leo IX was canonized, it ended the longest drought to date between saintly popes. 169 years separated Leo and Pope St. Adrian III, the 109th pope, who reigned from 884-885. The gap is actually the third-longest in papal history, given that 278 years separated St. Celestine V (1294) and St. Pius V (1566-1572) and 342 years separated Pius V and St. Pius X (1903-1914).
What else was going on in the world at the time?
brewery at Germany’s Weltenburg Abbey
is first mentioned around the year 1050, making it one of the oldest breweries in the world still in existence. Cheers!
Coming Tomorrow...Pope Victor II
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
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Tuesday, July 25 at 2:00AM