St. Leo IV
St. Leo lived in the ninth century. He was a Roman by birth and spent his life in that city. Leo was educated in the Benedictine monastery near St. Peter's Basilica. He was ordained a priest and performed his ministry at St. John Lateran's, a large, famous basilica. Leo was well-known and loved by two popes, Gregory IV who died in 844, and Sergius II who died in 847. The death of Pope Sergius II was to have an immediate effect on Leo. Rumors of a barbarian invasion of Saracens had Romans terrified. They did not want to be left without a pope. Neither did the cardinals. They quickly elected the successor to Sergius II. He is known to history as Leo IV.
As pope, Leo had the city walls repaired. The walls had been damaged the previous year by a Saracen attack. He beautified churches and brought many relics to Rome. He started a renewal program for the clergy. In fact, in 853 he called a synod for all Roman priests. He passed forty-two rules which helped priests live more fervent, prayerful and joy-filled lives.
A few bishops caused Leo great suffering because of their lives. They confronted the pope openly and would not change their ways. No matter how much Pope Leo was insulted, he remained just, patient and humble. He never let his troubles get the best of him. Leo kept giving his time and energy for Jesus and his Church. He loved the beautiful prayers of the liturgy and encouraged liturgical chant and music.
People loved St. Leo. Even during his lifetime, he was considered a miracle worker. It is said that he was responsible for stopping the terrible fire in the English quarter of Rome.
Pope Leo IV continued serving the Church with cheerfulness right up to the end of his life. He died on July 17, 855.
"Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."—(Jn15: 13)