Pope Leo II

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Pope Saint

Leo II
Bishop of Rome
Pope Leo II.jpg
Church Catholic Church
Diocese Rome
See Holy See
Papacy began17 August 682
Papacy endedJuly 683 [1]
Predecessor Agatho
Successor Benedict II
Created cardinal5 December 680
by Agatho
Personal details
Born Sicily, Byzantine Empire
DiedJune 683 (aged 72)
Rome, Byzantine Empire
Feast dayJune 28 (July 3, pre-1970 calendar

Pope Leo II (611 – 28 June 683) was the bishop of Rome from 17 August 682 to his death. He is one of the popes of the Byzantine Papacy. Described by a contemporary biographer as both just and learned, he is commemorated as a saint in the Roman Martyrology on 28 June [2] (3 July, pre-1970 calendar).


Early career

Benedict was a Sicilian by birth, [3] the son of a man named Paul. He may have ended up being among the many Sicilian clergymen in Rome due to the attacks of the Caliphate on Sicily in the mid-7th century. [4] Leo was known as an eloquent preacher who was interested in music, and noted for his charity to the poor. [5]


Pope Agatho died on 10 January 681, and although Leo was elected within days, he was not consecrated until 17 August 682. [6] The reason may have been due to Agatho's negotiations with Emperor Constantine IV regarding imperial control of papal elections. Constantine IV had already promised Agatho to abolish or reduce the tax that the popes had been paying to the imperial treasury at the time of their consecration, an imperial policy that had been in force for about a century. [2]

Leo's short-lived pontificate did not allow him to accomplish much. Notably, he confirmed the acts of the Sixth Ecumenical Council (680681) against Monothelitism. After Leo had notified the emperor that the decrees of the council had been confirmed, he made them known to the people of the West. In letters written to the Visigothic king, bishops, and nobles, he explained what the council had effected, and he called upon the bishops to subscribe to its decrees. [2] During this council, Pope Honorius I was anathematized for tolerating Monothelism. Leo took great pains to make it clear that in condemning Honorius, he did so not because Honorius taught heresy, but because he was not active enough in opposing it. [7] In accordance with the papal mandate, a synod was held at Toledo (684) in which the Third Council of Constantinople was accepted. [2]

Leo put an end to the attempts of the archbishops of Ravenna to break from the control of the bishops of Rome, but also abolished the tax it had been customary for them to pay when they received the pallium. [8] In apparent response to Lombard raids, Leo transferred the relics of a number of martyrs from the catacombs to churches inside the walls of the city. He dedicated two churches, St. Paul's and Sts. Sebastian and George. [8] Leo also reformed the Gregorian chant and composed several sacred hymns for the divine office.


Leo died on 28 June 683, and was succeeded by Benedict II. [6] He 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 of his papal namesakes. [9]

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History of the papacy

The history of the papacy, the office held by the pope as head of the Catholic Church, according to Catholic doctrine, spans from the time of Peter to the present day.

Macarius I of Antioch was Patriarch of Antioch in the 7th century, deposed in 681 for professing monothelitism.

Papal appointment

Papal appointment was a medieval method of selecting a pope. Popes have always been selected by a council of Church fathers, however, Papal selection before 1059 was often characterized by confirmation or nomination by secular European rulers or by their predecessors. The later procedures of the papal conclave are in large part designed to constrain the interference of secular rulers which characterized the first millennium of the Roman Catholic Church, and persisted in practices such as the creation of crown-cardinals and the jus exclusivae. Appointment might have taken several forms, with a variety of roles for the laity and civic leaders, Byzantine and Germanic emperors, and noble Roman families. The role of the election vis-a-vis the general population and the clergy was prone to vary considerably, with a nomination carrying weight that ranged from near total to a mere suggestion or ratification of a prior election.

Papal selection before 1059

There was no uniform procedure for papal selection before 1059. The bishops of Rome and supreme pontiffs (popes) of the Catholic Church were often appointed by their predecessors or by political rulers. While some kind of election often characterized the procedure, an election that included meaningful participation of the laity was rare, especially as the popes' claims to temporal power solidified into the Papal States. The practice of papal appointment during this period would later result in the jus exclusivae, i.e., a right to veto the selection that Catholic monarchs exercised into the twentieth century.

Byzantine Papacy Byzantine domination of the Roman papacy, 537 to 752

The Byzantine Papacy was a period of Byzantine domination of the Roman papacy from 537 to 752, when popes required the approval of the Byzantine Emperor for episcopal consecration, and many popes were chosen from the apocrisiarii or the inhabitants of Byzantine-ruled Greece, Syria, or Sicily. Justinian I conquered the Italian peninsula in the Gothic War (535–554) and appointed the next three popes, a practice that would be continued by his successors and later be delegated to the Exarchate of Ravenna.

Frankish Papacy

From 756 to 857, the papacy shifted from the orbit of the Byzantine Empire to that of the kings of the Franks. Pepin the Short, Charlemagne, and Louis the Pious had considerable influence in the selection and administration of popes. The "Donation of Pepin" (756) ratified a new period of papal rule in central Italy, which became known as the Papal States.

Papal travel Instances in which the Pope leaves Rome

Papal travel outside Rome has been historically rare, and voluntary travel of the Pope was non-existent for the first 500 years. Pope John Paul II (1978–2005) undertook more pastoral trips than all his predecessors combined. Pope Francis (2013-), Pope Paul VI (1963–1978) and Pope Benedict XVI (2005–2013) also travelled globally, the latter to a lesser extent due to his advanced age.


  1. Stancati, Tommaso. Julian of Toledo, The Newman Press, 2010, p. 132, ISBN   9780809105687
  2. 1 2 3 4 Wikisource-logo.svg  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Mann, Horace Kinder (1910). "Pope St. Leo II". In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia . 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  3. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Leo II"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 16 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 432.
  4. Jeffrey Richards (1 May 2014). The Popes and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages: 476-752. Routledge. p. 270. ISBN   9781317678175.
  5. Monks of Ramsgate. “Leo II”. Book of Saints, 1921. CatholicSaints.Info. 4 November 2014
  6. 1 2 Wikisource-logo.svg  Mann, Horace Kinder (1910). "Pope St. Leo II". In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia . 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  7. Butler, Alban. “Saint Leo II, Pope and Confessor”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 26 June 2013
  8. 1 2 Popes Archived 2006-02-06 at the Wayback Machine
  9. Reardon, Wendy. The deaths of the Popes .
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Benedict II