New Catholic Dictionary – Pope Saint Leo III

detail from 'The Oath of Leo III' by Raphael, date unknownArticle

Reigned from 26 December 795 to 12 June 816. Born and died in Rome, Italy. A cardinal-priest. When consecrated, he sent Charlemagne the keys of the confession of Saint Peter and the standard of the city to show that he regarded him as the protector of the church. From the king he received a portion of the treasure captured from the Avars and with this he benefited churches, institutions, and encouraged ecclesiastical art. A plot, to render Leo unfit to hold his sacred office was formed by Leo’s personal enemies. In the procession of the Greater Litanies (799) he was attacked by a body of armed men. Seriously injured he fled to the Monastery of Saint Erasmus, where he recovered in a miraculous manner. Escaping from the monastery he went to Germany. A few months later he returned to Rome under the protection of Charlemagne, and was received with great demonstrations of joy. His enemies were tried by Charlemagne‘s envoys, and sent to France as prisoners. A year later when Charlemagne and an assembly of bishops sentenced the leaders to death, Leo requested that their sentence be commuted to one of exile. On Christmas Day, 800, Charlemagne was crowned emperor. By this act Leo revived the Empire of the West, and in theory, the World was declared by the Church subject to one temporal head. Later he ratified a treaty between the emperors, Charlemagne and Michael I, securing peace for West and East. He regulated the dispute between the archbishops of York and Canterbury, and authorized the restoration of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the See of Canterbury. Feast, Roman Calendar, 12 June.

MLA Citation

  • “Pope Saint Leo III”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 11 August 2018. Web. 13 June 2021. <>