Posted by: fvbcdm | November 11, 2011

Feast of Pope Saint Leo the Great (10 Nov 2011)

 Today the Church celebrates the commemoration of Saint Leo the Great who was elected Pope in the year 440, just 127 years after the Emperor Constantine ended the persecution of the Church by the Roman Empire.  His name means “Lion” in Latin.  We find in the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, that the Patriarch Jacob, when giving his final blessing to his sons, says that the young man Judah “is a lion cub” and as formidable as a grown lion or lioness.  This symbolism is found in the New Testament as well as the Old, for in the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, we find it said, “The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed . . .”  Thus the name Leo and its male and female forms in the various languages come into both Jewish and Christian history and refers to Our Divine Lord himself.

The first time I was able to travel to Jerusalem, I was impressed to see on most of the lamp-posts in the Old City a figure of a rampant lion, since the holy city is within the territory assigned in the Old Testament to the tribe of Juda, symbolized by the strong lion.  Thus the use of the figure and the name Lion or Leo has deep roots in our sacred history.  In my mother’s home town there were a number of French-speaking women whose name was Leonie (“lay-oh-nee”), the French feminine form of Leon, or Leo.  In fact, one of the blood sisters of Saint Therese of Lisieux bore that name.  Thirteen of our popes have born the name Leo; today we celebrate Leo I:  “Leo the Great,” one of the very few popes who have come to be called “the great” because of their prominence in church history.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

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