Saint Leo I is one of four popes called ‘the Great,’ the others being St Gregory I, Nicholas I and St John Paul II. He was a Tuscan nobleman and deacon, and was elected pope by the Roman people in 440. As pope he famously wrote a letter to the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon. IN this letter he urges the bishops of the council to reject a heresy that held that Jesus did not have both a divine and human nature. The bishops, impressed by his words, cried ‘Peter has spoken through Leo!’ Leo in fact strongly defended the primacy of the Holy See over the other churches and held up the faith of Rome as a model for all Christians to follow. He was the first pope to call himself Vicar of Christ.
He was solicitous for the poor and did much to alleviate their suffering. He saved Rome from destruction by persuading Attila the Hun to leading his barbarian army away from the city.
St Leo died in 461. He was buried close to the remains of St Peter, beneath St Peter’s Basilica, in accordance with his wishes. He was later named a Doctor of the Church. His feast day is on November 10.