Pope Leo XIII

Pope Leo XIIIAlso known as

  • Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci


Sixth of seven children born to Count Dominico Ludovico Pecci and Anna Prosperi Buzzi; Vincenzo’s older brother was Cardinal Giuseppe Pecci. Confirmed on 25 August 1817. Studied at the Jesuit College at Viterbo, Italy from 1818 to 1824, then the Collegio Romano from 1824 to 1832, the Pontifical Academy of Ecclesiastical Nobles in Rome, Italy in 1832; he received his doctorate in theology in 1836 from the Archgymnasium of Rome, doctor of civil and canon law from La Sapienza University in Rome. Appointed domestic prelate to the pope on 6 February 1837. Referendary of the Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature of Justice and of Grace on 16 March 1837. Relator of the Congregation of Good Government on 28 June 1837. Ordained on 31 December 1837. Apostolic delegate in Benevento, Italy on 17 February 1838. Apostolic delegate in Spoleto, Italy on 12 June 1841. Apostolic delegate in Perugia, Italy on 17 July 1841. Titular archbishop of Damietta on 27 January 1843. Apostolic nuncio to Belgium on 28 January 1843. Named papal assistant on 10 February 1843. Bishop of Perugia from 19 January 1846 till 1877. Created cardinalpriest on 19 December 1853. Camerlengo of the Church on 21 September 1877. Chosen 256th pope in 1878.

Leo’s election changed the course of the papacy. He was a modern man of his times, and he worked, by preaching and writing, to bring Catholic attitudes into the modern world without losing the Christianity at it’s core. He managed to end Kulturkampf in 1887. He tried to bring French Catholics to support the republic. His 1885 encyclical Immortale Dei explained the position of Catholics as citizens in modern secular, democratic states. He refuted the French royalists’ claim that they were exceptional Catholics, and the French antiCatholics contention that the Church was politically reactionary; overall he supported and vindicated Catholic democrats. He opposed the antiCatholic government of Italy. In Rerum novarum in 1891, Leo explained the sad deficiencies of Marxism and gave an early warning of the misery it would inflict on the world. He countered intellectual attacks on Christianity by advancing Thomism, with its insistence that there is no conflict between science and faith; he wrote Aeterni Patris in 1879 in which he declared the philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas official, and required its study. He founded the institute of Thomistic philosophy at the University of Louvain. He opened the Vatican secret archives to scholars, and reminded Catholic historians that nothing but the whole truth must be found in their work. He encouraged Bible study, set up the permanent Biblical Commission in 1902, and sponsored the Catholic University at Washington, DC. Revitalized the Vatican Library and put the his brother, Cardinal Giuseppe Pecci at its head. First pope to have his voice recorded. The length of his reign, over 25 years, allowed him to stock the college of cardinals with many excellent men; he elevated 147 of them.


Papal Ascension


Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Pope Leo XIII“. CatholicSaints.Info. 9 September 2021. Web. 18 January 2022. <>