Pope St. Leo II
Pope (682-83), date of birth unknown; d. 28 June, 683. He was a Sicilian, and son of one Paul. Though elected pope a few days after the death of St. Agatho (10 June, 681), he was not consecrated till after the lapse of a year and seven months (17 Aug., 682). Under Leo’s predecessor St. Agatho, negotiations had been opened between the Holy See and Emperor Constantine Pogonatus concerning the relations of the Byzantine Court to papal elections. Constantine had already promised Agatho to abolish or reduce the tax which for about a century the popes had had to pay to the imperial treasury on the occasion of their consecration, and under Leo’s successor he made other changes in what had hitherto been required of the Roman Church at the time of a papal election. In all probability, therefore, it was continued correspondence on this matter which caused the delay of the imperial confirmation of Leo’s election, and hence the long postponement of his consecration. The most important act accomplished by Leo in his short pontificate was his confirmation of the acts of the Sixth Oecumenical Council (680-1). This council had been held in Constantinople against the Monothelites, and had been presided over by the legates of Pope Agatho. After Leo had notified the emperor that the decrees of the council had been confirmed by him, he proceeded to make them known to the nations of the West. The letters which he sent for this end to the king and to the bishops and nobles of Spain have come down to us. In them he explained what the council had effected, and he called upon the bishops to subscribe to its decrees. At the same time he was at pains to make it clear that in condemning his predecessor Honorius I, he did so, not because he taught heresy, but because he was not active enough in opposing it. In accordance with the papal mandate, a synod was held at Toledo (684) in which the Council of Constantinople was accepted.
The fact that Ravenna had long been the residence of the emperors or of their representatives, the exarchs, had awakened the ambition of its archbishops. They aspired to the privileges of patriarchs and desired to be autocephalous, i.e. free from the direct jurisdiction of the pope, considered as their primate. As they could not succeed in inducing the popes to agree to their wishes, they attempted to secure their accomplishment by an imperial decree recognizing them as autocephalous. But this did not prove sufficient to enable the archbishops to effect their purpose, and Leo obtained from Constantine Pogonatus the revocation of the edict of Constans. On his side, however, Leo abolished the tax which the archbishops had been accustomed to pay when they received the pallium. And though he insisted that the archbishops-elect must come to Rome to be consecrated, he consented to the arrangement that they should not be obliged to remain in Rome more than eight days at the time of their consecration, and that, while they were not to be bound to come again to Rome themselves in order to offer their homage to the pope, they were each year to send a delegate to do so in their name. Perhaps because he feared that the Lombards might again ravage the catacombs, Leo transferred thence many of the relics of the martyrs into a church which he built to receive them. This pope, who is called by his contemporary biographer both just and learned, is commemorated as a saint in the Roman Martyrology on 28 June.
Epistle and Gospel – July 3.
Lesson from the first letter of St Peter the Apostle
1 Peter 5:1-4; 5:10-11
Dearly beloved brethren: The ancients therefore that are among you, I beseech, who am myself also an ancient, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ: as also a partaker of that glory which is to be revealed in time to come: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking care of it, not by constraint, but willingly, according to God: not for filthy lucre’s sake, but voluntarily: Neither as lording it over the clergy, but being made a pattern of the flock from the heart. And when the prince of pastors shall appear, you shall receive a never fading crown of glory. But the God of all grace, who hath called us into his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little, will himself perfect you, and confirm you, and establish you. To him be glory and empire for ever and ever. Amen.
Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew
In that time: Jesus came into the quarters of Caesarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is? But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am? Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.