82. Pope John V 685-686

John V

Syrian born Pope John V only ruled for a year but his contributions to the faith before becoming Pope were immeasurable. In 680 John was the leading Roman delegate at the Third Council of Constantinople. This council was called to finally put to rest the leading heresy of the day,monothelitism. This heresy believed that Jesus had only a Divine will,and not both human and Divine as the Church teaches. It was popular with various emperors and even some clergy of the eastern Church,but Rome had always held the line on the nature of Jesus for nearly two hundred years at this point(and seemingly forever when writing this blog).John and the other Roman delegate’s defense of the nature of Jesus finally helped put to rest this long standing debate and monothelitism was officially declared a heresy recognized by both west and east Churches. This work on behalf of the Catholic faith helped to elect him to the Papacy in 685. John mostly used his short time clearing up debates about the appointing of bishops and restoring older Churches. He was buried in St Peter’s basilica(the old one)and unfortunately his tomb was destroyed by an Arab invasion of Rome in 846.

45. Pope St.Leo I 440-461

Leo

Attila the Hun,the scourge of God,was on a rampage. The most feared enemy of the Roman empire had plundered the Balkans,invaded France and conquered much of the Eastern empire when he crossed into Italy in 452. Attila wanted the sister of the Roman emperor as a trophy and he murdered and destroyed all that stood between him and Rome. His invasion was slowed due to lack of resources and diease,so the emperor saw an opportunity to perhaps buy some time by sending in the Pope to ask for mercy. Pope Leo rode into Attila’s camp unarmed(!)and got his meeting with the barbarian. No record of what was said,or offered,or begged,but when the meeting was over,Attila simply packed up and retreated home. What in the world did the Pope say?? It’s true that Attila’s forces were weakened,but he was an uncompromising monster that was hot for the emperor’s sister,with little in the way of taking her and Rome and he simply leaves with no excuses?? No wonder the Romans started calling Leo “The Great” afterwards.
Leo was a brilliant aristocrat that had influence over both secular and Church matters and he was a very powerful force against heresies. Monophysitism was an Eastern heresy that claimed Jesus had only one nature(divine),as opposed to the Church’s position that Jesus was fully divine and fully human. The Tome of Leo was a mic drop letter to all Eastern Bishops that had any doubts as to his position on the matter or to his authority over all Christians in the world. Basically what Leo said went. Pope Leo the Great is buried in St.Peter’s basilica and his feast day is November 10th.

40. Pope St. Innocent I 401-417

Innocent

BARBARIANS AT THE GATES!! Literally. There were barbarians at the gates of Rome as the city was invaded by Visigoths led by King Alaric I in the year 408. This was the first time in 800 years that Rome had been defeated by a foreign enemy and this was the beginning of the end of the Roman empire. The fall of Rome correlated with the rise of the Papacy in status and power and Pope Innocent was just the man to take the reins and assert his authority over his city and his fellow Christians. A seemingly energetic man with a love of being Pope(and the prestige that came with it),he had a solid papacy where he successfully combated heresies and settled Church matters from Africa to Greece. Innocent was in the new Roman capital of Ravenna to help with talks of peace with the Visigoths when talks fell through and the invasion commenced. He wasn’t able to safely return to Rome for nearly two years. Miraculously,most Christian sites such as St. Peter’s were left undisturbed during the horrible sack of Rome. Innocent died of natural causes and he was buried above the catacomb of Pontianus. His feast day is on March 12th.