February 12th


Illustration of Pope Leo IX by Chevalier Artaud de Montor, 1911

On February 12, 1049, the papacy of Leo IX began. Pope Leo IX , born ‘Bruno, Graf von Egisheim und Dagsburg’, was a German aristocrat and ruler of central Italy whose papacy spanned until his death in 1054.

Leo IX succeeded Pope Damascus II, who died in 1048, as Catholic Church’s 151st Pope. Despite being selected as the next pope by the Emporer and his delegates, Bruno decided that he wanted to be freely elected by the clergy and the people of Rome. In fact, he made this a condition of his acceptance of the papacy.

Leo IX’s more traditional values compelled him to campaign toward erasing what he believed were the Church’s evils at the time, including clerical marriage (pushing for celibacy among members of the clergy), simony (the buying or selling of church offices or powers) and lay investiture (the appointment of bishops, abbots and other church officials by feudal lords). His desire to hold synods, or church councils, and his travels around Europe earned him the nickname “The Pilgrim Pope.”


Portrayal of Leo IX from a contemporary manuscript.

Pope Leo IX had an ambition of reforming the Catholic Church into the heart of global Christianity and, thus, into a global power. In 1054 Great Schism occurred; the separation of the Eastern and Western Churches. This is considered as being closely linked with Leo’s papacy due to his military intervention against the Norman conquest of Southern Italy – which was unsuccessful.

After his defeat against the Norman invaders, Leo was held prisoner in Benevento, Italy, through 1053-54. Leo IX died on April 19, 1054, shortly after his return to Rome. He was succeeded by Pope Victor II.


The Great Schism of 1054 saw the separation of the Catholic Church – led by Pope Leo IX – from the Orthodox Church – led by Michael Cerularius.


One thought on “February 12th

  1. Pingback: April 19th | The FeedBack

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