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Pope Leo XIII (2 March 1810 - 20 July 1903), born Count Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci, was the 257th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, reigning from 1878 to 1903 in succession to Pope Pius IX. Reigning until the age of 93, he was the oldest pope, and had the third longest pontificate, behind Pius IX and John Paul II. He is known for intellectualism, the development of social teachings with his encyclical Rerum Novarum and his attempts to define the position of the Church with regard to modern thinking.

Early life

Count Dominic Louis Pecci, Father of Leo XIII
Born in Carpineto Romanomarker, near Romemarker, he was the sixth of the seven sons of Count Lodovico Pecci and his wife Anna Prosperi Buzi. From 1810 to 1818 he was at home with his family, "in which religion counted as the highest grace on earth, as through her, salvation can be earned for all eternity". Together with his brother he studied in the Jesuit College in Viterbomarker, where he stayed until 1824. He enjoyed the Latin language and was known to write his own Latin poems at the age of eleven.
Anna Prosperi Countess Pecci, Mother of Leo XIII

In 1824 he and his older brother Giuseppe Pecci were called to Rome where their mother was dying. Count Pecci wanted his children near him after the loss of his wife, and so they stayed with him in Rome, attending the Jesuit Collegium Romanummarker. In 1828, Giuseppe entered the Jesuit order, while Vincenzo decided in favour of secular clergy.

He studied at the Academia dei Nobili, mainly diplomacy and law. In 1834 he gave a student presentation, attended by several cardinals, on papal judgements. For his presentation he received awards for academic excellence, and gained the attention of Vatican officials. Cardinal Secretary of State Luigi Cardinal Lambruschini introduced him to Vatican congregations and to Pope Gregory XVI, who appointed Pecci on 14 February 1837, as personal prelate even before he was ordained priest on 31 December 1837, by the Vicar of Rome. He celebrated his first mass together with his priest brother Giuseppe. He received his doctorate in theology in 1836 and doctorates of civil and Canon Law in Rome also.

Provincial administrator

The house in Carpineto, in which the Pecci brothers grew up
Shortly thereafter, Gregory XVI appointed Pecci as legate (provincial administrator) to Beneventomarker. The smallest of papal provinces, Benevento included about 20,000 people. The main problems facing Pecci were a decaying local economy, insecurity because of widespread bandits, and pervasive Mafia structures, who often were allied with aristocratic families. Pecci arrested the most powerful aristocrat in Benevento, and his troops captured others, who were either killed or imprisoned by him. With the public order restored, he turned to the economy and a reform of the tax system to stimulate trade with neighbouring provinces.

Upon completion of the tax reforms, Gregory XVI appointed Pecci to be administrator of Spoletomarker, a province with 100,000, and then Perugiamarker with 200,000 inhabitants. His immediate concern was to prepare the province for a papal visitation in the same year. Pope Gregory visited hospitals and educational institutions for several days, asking for advice and listing questions. The fight against corruption continued in Perugia, where Pecci himself investigated several incidents. When it was claimed that a bakery was selling bread below the prescribed pound weight, he personally went there, had all bread weighed, and confiscated it if below legal weight. The confiscated bread was distributed to the poor.
Carpineto in 1860

Nuncio to Belgium

In 1843, Pecci, only thirty-four years old, was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Belgium, a position which guaranteed the Cardinal's hat after completion of the tour. On 27 April 1843, Pope Gregory XVI appointed Pecci Archbishop of Damiette and asked his Cardinal Secretary of State Lambruschini to consecrate him. Pecci developed excellent relations with the royal family and used the location to visit neighbouring Germany, where he was particularly interested in the resumed construction of the Cologne Cathedralmarker. Upon his initiative, a Belgian College in Rome was opened in 1844, where 100 years later, in 1946, Pope John Paul II would begin his Roman studies. He spent several weeks in England with Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman, carefully reviewing the condition of the Catholic Church in that country.
Bishop Pecci as Nuncio in Brussels
In Belgium, the school question was then sharply debated between the Catholic majority and the Liberal minority. Pecci encouraged the struggle for Catholic schools, yet he was able to win the good will of the Court, not only of the pious Queen Louise, but also of King Leopold I, strongly Liberal in his views. The new nuncio succeeded in uniting the Catholics.

Archbishop of Perugia

Bishop Pecci enters Perugia in 1846

Pecci was named papal assistant in 1843. He first achieved note as the popular and successful Archbishop of Perugia from 1846 to 1877. In 1847, Pope Pius IX issued unlimited freedom for the press, which, after many years of restrictions, was highly welcomed and popular. In the following year, in 1848, revolutionary movements developed throughout Western Europe including Francemarker, Germanymarker and Italymarker. Pecci, who was highly popular in the first years of his episcopate, became now the object of attacks, both in the media and in his residence. The papal minister Rossi was assassinated and Pope Pius IX had to flee to Gaetamarker. \In the following months, Austrian French and Spanish troops reversed the revolutionary gains, but at a price for Pecci and the Catholic Church, who could not regain their former popularity. Pecci called a provincial council, in order to reform the religious life in his dioceses. He invested in the enlargement of the seminary for future priests and in new and prominent professors, preferably Thomists. He called on his brother Giuseppe Pecci, a noted Thomist scholar, to resign his professorship in Rome and teach instead in Perugia. His own residence was next to the seminary, which aided daily contacts of the students with the de-facto head of the seminary, Archbishop Pecci.

Pecci developed several activities in support of Catholic charities: He founded homes for homeless boys and girls, and for elderly women. Throughout his dioceses he opened branches of a Bank, Monte de Pieta, which focused on low-income people with low interest loans He created soup-kitchens, which were run by the Capuchins. In the consistory of 19 December 1853, he was elevated to the College of Cardinals, as Cardinal-Priest of S.marker Crisogonomarker. In light of continuing earthquakes and floods, he donated all resources for festivities to the victims. Much of the public attention turned on the conflict between the Papal State and Italian nationalist, aiming at its annihilation in favour of a unified Italy. Pecci defended the papacy and its claims. When Italian authorities expropriated convents and monasteries of Catholic orders, turning them into administration or military buildings, Cardinal Pecci protested but acted moderately. When the Italian state took over Catholic schools, Pecci, fearing for his theological seminary, simply added all secular topics from other schools and opened the seminary to non-theologians. The new government in addition to the expropriations levied taxes on the Church and issued legislation, according to which all Episcopal or papal utterances are to be approved by the government before their publication.
Pope Pius IX announced an ecumenical council to take place in the Vatican on 8 December 1869, Pecci was likely to be well informed, since his brother Giuseppe had been named by the Pope to be one of the persons to prepare this event. In his last years in Perugia, Pecci several times addressed the role of the Church in modern society. Pecci defined the Church as the mother of material civilization, because the Church upholds human dignity of working people, opposes the excesses of industrialization and developed large scale charities for the needy.

In August 1877, on the death of Cardinal Filippo de Angelis, Pope Pius IX appointed him Camerlengo, so that he was obliged to reside in Rome. Pope Pius died on 7 February 1878, and during his closing years the Liberal press had often insinuated that the Italian Government should take a hand in the conclave and occupy the Vaticanmarker. However the Russo-Turkish War and the sudden death of Victor Emmanuel II (9 January 1878) distracted the attention of the government. The conclave proceeded as usual, and on the third ballot Cardinal Pecci was elected by forty-four votes out of sixty-one.


Pope Leo XIII in 1880

As soon as he was elected to the papacy, Leo XIII worked to encourage understanding between the Church and the modern world.When he firmly re-asserted the scholastic doctrine that science and religion co-exist, he required the study of Thomas Aquinas and opened the Vatican Secret Archives to qualified researchers, among whom was the noted historian of the Papacy Ludwig von Pastor.

Leo XIII was the first Pope to come out strongly in favour of the French Republicmarker, upsetting many French monarchists. In his relations with the Italian state, Leo XIII continued the Papacy's self-imposed incarceration in the Vatican stance, and continued to insist that Italian Catholics should not vote in Italian elections or hold elected office. In his first consistory in 1879 he elevated his older brother Giuseppe a cardinal.

Leo XIII was the first Pope of whom a sound recording was made. The recording can be found on a compact disc of Alessandro Moreschi's singing; a recording of his performance of the Ave Maria is available on the web. He was also the first Pope to be filmed on the motion picture camera. He was filmed by its inventor, W. K. Dickson, and blessed the camera afterward.

Leo XIII brought normalcy back to the Church after the tumultuous years of Pius IX. Leo's intellectual and diplomatic skills helped regain much of the prestige lost with the fall of the Papal States. He tried to reconcile the Church with the working class, particularly by dealing with the social changes that were sweeping Europe. The new economic order had resulted in the growth of an impoverished working class, with increasing anti-clerical and socialist sympathies. Leo helped reverse this trend.

Under Otto von Bismarck, the anti-Catholic kulturkampf in Germany led to massive reprisals against the Church. Under Leo, the anti-Catholic measures subsided. The Centre Party in Germany was largely a Catholic creation and was a positive force for social change. It was encouraged by Leo's support for social welfare legislation and the rights of working people. Leo's forward-looking approach encouraged Catholic Action in other European countries where the social teachings of the Church were incorporated into the agenda of Catholic parties, particularly the Christian Democratic Parties, which became an acceptable alternative to socialist parties. Leo's social teachings were reiterated throughout the 20th century by his successors.

While Leo was no radical in either theology or politics, his papacy did move the Church back to the mainstream of European life. Considered a great diplomat, he managed to improve relations with Russia, Prussia, German France, England and other countries. However, in light of a hostile anti-Catholic climate in Italy, he continued the policies of Pius IX towards Italy, without major modifications. He had to defend the freedom of the Church against Italian persecutions and attacks in the area of education, expropriation and violation of Catholic Churches, legal measures against the Church and brutal attacks, culminating in anticlerical groups attempting to throw the body of the deceased Pope Pius IX into the Tiber river on 13 July 1881. The Pope even considered moving his residence to Triestemarker or Salzburgmarker, two cities in Austriamarker, an idea which the Austrian monarch Franz Josef I gently rejected.

During the Fifth cholera pandemic in 1891 he ordered the construction of a hospice inside the Vatican. That building would be torn down in 1996 to make way for construction of the Domus Sanctae Marthaemarker.

His favorite poets were Virgil and Dante.

Relations with Russia

Pope Leo XIII was able to reach several agreements in 1896, which resulted in better conditions for the faithful and additional appointments of bishops

Pope Leo XIII began his pontificate with a friendly letter to Tsar Alexander II, in which he reminded the Russianmarker monarch of the millions of Catholics living in his empire, who would like to be good Russian subjects, provided their dignity is respected. He appealed to the generosity of the Tsar, since VaticanRussianmarker relations were at a low point. The Tsar replied in an equally friendly manner and promised actions towards equal treatment of all Catholics in the empire. As during the pontificate of Pope Pius IX, this turned out to be relative, since most problems were at the local level. As negotiations started, Russian demands for the use of Russian language in Catholic Churches including the Polish and Lithuanianmarker provinces, was unacceptable to the Vatican. Pope Leo XIII threatened to appeal directly to all Catholics in Russia. Some progress was made in the occupation of vacant episcopal sees, but an emotional breakthrough was the Papal encyclical from 28 December 1878, against nihilism and socialism and radicalism, which, was dear to the Russian monarch, who was under constant pressure from nihilist and socialist forces. Repeated assassination attempts against Alexander II gave the Pope opportunity to repeat his warnings, which were read in all Catholic Churches.

After the assassination of Alexander II, the Pope sent a high ranking representative to the coronation of his successor. Alexander III was grateful and asked for all religious forces to unify. He asked the Pope to ensure that his bishops abstain from political agitation. Relations improved further, when Pope Leo XIII, due to Italian considerations, distanced the Vatican from the Romemarker-Viennamarker-Berlinmarker alliance and helped to facilitate a rapprochement between Paris and St. Petersburg. Meanwhile the Ruthenians continued to be persecuted and Rome was not able to assist much. Russia began to protest against Church uses by Polish groups for anti-Russian activities, and the Pope found himself in the same dilemma as his predecessor Pius IX. He was personally attacked for sacrificing Polish interest in the language dispute. Russia in turn accused its Catholics of being disloyal citizens, without attacking the Pope himself.
After the succession of Tsar Nicolas II in 1894, Pope Leo XIII was able to reach additional agreements in 1896, which resulted in better conditions for the faithful, numerous specific dispensations and permits, and additional appointments of bishops. However, he was not able to reopen the nunciature in St. Petersburgmarker. His pontificate ended with marked improvements in the atmosphere between the Vatican and Russia.

Relations with the United Kingdom and the Americas

Among the activities of Leo XIII that were important for the English-speaking world, the encyclical Apostolicæ Curæ of 1896 on the non-validity of the Anglican orders stand out as highly significant. Furthermore, Leo restored the Scottish hierarchy in 1878. In British Indiamarker, he established a Catholic hierarchy in 1886, and regulated some long-standing conflicts with the Portuguese authorities.

The United States at many moments in time attracted the attention and admiration of Pope Leo. He confirmed the decrees of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (1884), and raised to the cardinalate Archbishop Gibbons of that city in 1886. His role in South America will also be remembered, especially the pontifical benediction extended over Chileanmarker troops on the eve of the Battle of Chorrillos during the War of the Pacific in January 1881. The Chilean soldiers thus blessed then looted the cities of Chorrillos and Barranco, including the churches, and their Chaplains headed the robbery at the Biblioteca Nacional del Perú, where the soldiers ransacked various items along with much capital, and Chilean Priests coveted rare and ancient editions of the Bible that were stored there. Despite this, one year later Chilean President Domingo Santa Marìa issued the Laicist Laws, which separated the Church from the State, this being considered a slap in the face for the Papacy. Pope Leo is also remembered for the First Plenary Council of Latin America held at Romemarker in 1899, and his encyclical of 1888 to the bishops of Brazilmarker on the abolition of slavery.
American newspapers criticized Pope Leo because they claimed that he was attempting to gain control of American public schools. One cartoonist drew Leo as a fox unable to reach grapes that were labeled for American schools; the caption read "Sour grapes!"


Leo XIII was the first Pope to be born in the 19th century. He was also the first to die in the 20th century: he lived to the age of 93, the longest living pope. At the time of his death, Leo XIII was the second-longest reigning pope, exceeded only by his immediate predecessor, Pius IX. Leo was not entombed in St. Peter's Basilicamarker, as all popes after him were, but instead at St. John Lateranmarker, a church in which he took a particular interest.


The pontificate of Leo XIII was theologically influenced by the First Vatican Council (1869-1870), which had ended only eight years earlier. Leo issued some 46 apostolic letters and encyclicals dealing with central issues in the areas of marriage and family and state and society.


As Pope, he used all his authority for a revival of Thomism, the theology of Thomas Aquinas. On 4 August 1879, Leo promulgated the encyclical Aeterni Patris (“Eternal Father”) which, more than any other single document, provided a charter for the revival of Thomism—the medieval theological system based on the thought of Aquinas—as the official philosophical and theological system of the Roman Catholic Church. It was to be normative not only in the training of priests at church seminaries but also in the education of the laity at universities. To that end Leo also sponsored the start of a definitive critical edition of the works of Aquinas.

In Aeterni Patris, Leo recommended Thomas Aquinas as a model for theological and philosophical studies. Thomism had lost its old role as leading theology and Leo attempted to re-establish it "for the protection of faith, welfare of society and the advancement of science". He envisaged not sterile interpretations of it, but a going back to the original sources. This new orientation at the beginning of his pontificate was welcomed by Dominicans, Thomist Jesuits like Giuseppe Pecci and numerous bishops throughout the world. Strong opposition developed as well on several fronts within the Church: Some considered Thomism simply outdated, while others used it for petty condemnations of dissident views they did not like. The traditional antagonists Jesuits and Dominicans were both claiming leadership in the renewal of Catholic theology.

Leo responded by mandating all Catholic Universities to teach Thomism, and, by creating a papal academy for the training of Thomists professors and re-editing the scholarly editions of Thomas Aquinas. Leo was responsible for raising the University of Santo Tomasmarker, Manila which is the oldest existing in Asia into a "Pontifical University". The leadership of this academy he entrusted to Giuseppe Pecci, who aided the creation of similar Thomas Aquinas academies in other places such as Bologna, Freiburg (Switzerland), Paris and Lowden. In 1879 Pecci was appointed as first Prefect of the still existing Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas Pontificia Accademia Di San Tommaso D'Aquino, which Pope Leo founded on 15 October 1879. Leo XIII appointed thirty members, ten each from Rome, Italy and the world, and provided generous financial support to attract scholars from everywhere. The Pope personally supported individual Thomist scholars and applauded numerous text-critical editions of the Doctor Angelicus.


Leo XIII performed a number of consecrations, at times entering new theological territory. His consecration of the entire world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus presented theological challenges in consecrating non-Christians. Since about 1850, various congregations and States had consecrated themselves to the Sacred Heart, and, in 1875, this consecration was made throughout the Catholic world. In June 1898 Leo XIII received a letter from the superior of a Good Shepherd nun, Mary of the Divine Heart stating that in a vision of Jesus Christ she had been told to request the consecration of the entire world to the Sacred Heart. The Pontiff did not believe the nun at first, but upon receiving a second letter in January 1899 he commissioned an inquiry on the basis of her revelation and church tradition. In his 1899 encyclical letter Annum Sacrum Leo XIII decreed that the consecration of the entire human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus should take place on June 11, 1899. He called this the "the greatest act of my pontificate". Annum Sacrum also included the Prayer of Consecration to the Sacred Heart which the pontiff composed.


In his 1893 encyclical Providentissimus Deus, he described the importance of scriptures for theological study. It was an important encyclical for Catholic theology and its relation to the Bible, as Pope Pius XII pointed out fifty years later in his encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu. In Providentissimus Deus, Leo gave new encouragement to Bible study while warning against rationalist interpretations which deny the inspiration of Scripture:

"For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical, are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost: and so far is it from being possible that any error can co-exist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error, but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true." (Providentissimus Deus)

Ecumenical efforts

Pope Leo XIII fostered ecumenical relations leading to the reintegration of the Armenian Church into the Catholic Church in 1879. He opposed efforts to Latinize the Eastern Rite Churches, stating that they constitute a most valuable ancient tradition and symbol of the divine unity of the Catholic Church. His 1894 encyclical Praeclara Gratulationis praised the cultural and liturgical diversity of expressions of faith within the Church . In Orientalum Dignitatis he repeated the need to preserve and cultivate diversity. On 29 June 1896, Leo XIII issued the encyclical Satis Cognitum, in which he invited separated brothers and sisters to join the Catholic Church.

During his pontificate, major conversions continued, in England under the influence of Cardinal John Henry Newman. Efforts to draw the Anglican communities closer to the Catholic Church experienced a set-back when the Vatican announced in 1896, after a historical analysis, that the Apostolic Succession of Anglican Bishops was not completely secured, meaning that some Anglican bishops were not properly ordained. However, Leo managed to improve relations with the Orthodox Church with his open approach.

The 1896 bull Apostolicae Curae declared the ordination of deacons, priests, and bishops in Anglican churches (including the Church of England) invalid, while granting recognition to ordinations in the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches although they were considered illicit.

Theological research

Leo XIII is credited with great efforts in the areas of scientific and historical analysis. He opened the Vatican Archives and personally fostered a twenty-volume comprehensive scientific study of the Papacy by Ludwig von Pastor, an Austrian historian. He entrusted the Dominican order with a text critical edition of the collective works of Thomas Aquinas, and furthered the career of noted scholars like Franz Ehrle and John Henry Newman, whom he elevated to the College of Cardinals. He founded the Catholic University of Americamarker in 1889.

His 1899 apostolic letter Testem Benevolentiae condemned Americanism, an alleged American modernistic view holding that the teachings of the Church must be adapted to American society. Leo condemned the views that Catholic dogmas, which seemed to be contrary to the American experience, should be left out, and that natural virtues are more important than supernatural ones. American bishops led by Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore thanked him and expressed gratitude for setting the record straight. Gibbons, however, pointed out that no Catholic in the United States held those views.

When, at the end of the pontificate of Leo XIII in 1903, the papacy had regained much of its prestige and authority, his theological teachings were given much credit.

Rosary Pope

His predecessor, Pope Pius IX, became known as the Pope of the Immaculate Conception because of the dogmatization in 1854. Leo XIII, in light of his unprecedented promulgation of the rosary in eleven encyclicals, was called Rosary Pope. In eleven encyclicals on the rosary he promulgates Marian devotion. In his encyclical on the fiftieth anniversary of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, he stresses her role in the redemption of humanity, mentioning Mary as Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix.


The Rosary Pope Leo XIII is the first Pope to fully embrace the concept of Mary as mediatrix. In his rosary encyclicals, he described the Virgin Mary as mediating all graces. In 1883 he wrote that nothing is as salvific and powerful as asking for the support of the Virgin, the mediator of peace with God and of heavenly graces. In his rosary encyclical Octobri Mense, he stated, that Mary is administrator of graces on earth, part of a new salvation order. In Dei Matris he noted, that Mary is mediator because Christ the Lord is also our brother And, in Jucunda Semper, he stated, that the deepest reason, why Roman Catholics look for the protection of Mary through prayer, is most certainly her office as mediator of divine grace. In Augustissimae Virginis, he wrote that calling on Mary is the best way to be heard by God, and to find his grace.


The views of Pope Leo XIII regarding Mary as Co-Redemptrix rely on Thomas Aquinas. From him he borrows the notion that Mary, in the hour of Annunciation, assumed the role of a helper in the mystery of redemption. Thus all Christians are born through Mary. With Jesus, Mary carried all in her womb. Therefore all Christians are her children.


Leo XIII recalled Louis de Montfort, whom he beatified on the very day of his own golden jubilee as a priest. He (as did later Pius X) applied the Marian analysis of Montfort to the analysis of the Church as a whole. His mariology was greatly influenced by Thomas Aquinas, especially his view of Mary's role in the Annunciation.

Leo is considered to be one of the most intelligent popes and his teachings are a possible reflection of that: The style is crisp, short but very clear. A centennial after his death, he is often quoted, most recently by Pope Benedict XVI and John Paul II, both of whom, however, did not display "the Marian courage and confidence" of Leo XIII in the areas of Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix.

Leo actively employed his papal authority to support the veneration of Mary in places of her apparitions. In 1879, he crowned Our Lady of La Salettemarkerreference needed. Upon the blessing and opening of the Church of our Lady in Lourdesmarker, he issued an apostolic writing, Parte humanae generi , supporting pilgrimages to Lourdes and other Marian shrines. He declared the Madonna of Monserat to be the patron of Catalonia, and instituted the Feast of the Miraculous Medalmarker in 1894. He condemned heresies about the Immaculate Conception and discussed the relation of Saint Joseph to Mary in an 1889 encyclical.

Social teachings

Church and state

In 1889, Pope Leo XIII authorized the founding of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and granted her Papal degrees in theology

Leo XIII worked to encourage understanding between the Church and the modern world, though he preferred a cautious view on freedom of thought, stating that "is quite unlawful to demand, defend, or to grant unconditional freedom of thought, or speech, of writing or worship, as if these were so many rights given by nature to man" Leo's social teachings are based on the Catholic premise, that God is the Creator of the world and its Ruler. Eternal law commands the natural order to be maintained, and forbids that it be disturbed; men's destiny is far above human things and beyond the earth. Human nature is stained by original sin, and is therefore more disposed to vice than to virtue. He opposed notions of marriage as a commercial contract, divorce, and education without religion, a State without God. He rejected some forms of egalitarianism: "People differ in capacity, skill, health, strength; and unequal fortune is a necessary result of unequal condition. Such inequality is far from being disadvantageous either to individuals or to the community." All men are equal in regard to their common origin and nature, or the last end which each one has to attain, or the rights and duties which are thence derived. Leo XIII predicts that if state authorities do not heed these eternal truths, if they permit "the fear of God and reverence for divine laws being taken away", overthrow of the existing order and of the authorities themselves will occur. Attempts are under way, he claims, by communists, socialists and Freemasons. But, whoever strive against the order which Divine Providence has constituted pay usually the penalty of their pride, and meet with affliction and misery where they rashly hoped to find all things prosperous and in conformity with their desires. Obedience to God is a teaching which supports civil authorities, because Church teaching about the divine origin of authority civil authority, and fosters obedience to it.

Rerum Novarum

His encyclicals changed Church positions on relations with temporal authorities, and, in the 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum addressed for the first time social inequality and social justice issues with Papal authority, focusing on the rights and duties of capital and labour. He was greatly influenced by Wilhelm Emmanuel von Ketteler, a German bishop who openly propagated siding with the suffering working classes in his book Die Arbeiterfrage und das Chistentum. Since Leo XIII, Papal teachings expand on the right and obligation of workers and the limitations of private property: Pope Pius XI Quadragesimo Anno, the Social teachings of Pope Pius XII on a huge range of social issues, John XXIII Mater et Magistra in 1961, Pope Paul VI, the encyclical Populorum Progressio on World development issues, and Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, commemorating the 100th anniversary of Rerum Novarum. Leo XIII had argued that both capitalism and communism are flawed. Rerum Novarum introduced the idea of subsidiarity into Catholic social thought. A full list of all of Leo's encyclicals can be found in the List of Encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII.

Canonizations and beatification

He canonized the following saints:

In addition, he beatified Gerard Majella in 1893 and Edmund Campion in 1886. His Holiness also approved the cult of Cosmas of Aphrodisia.


  • One of the first audiences Leo XIII granted was to the professors and students of the Collegio Capranica, where in the first row kneeled in front of him a young seminarian, Giacomo Della Chiesa, his eventual successor, Pope Benedict XV.
  • While on a pilgrimage with her father and sister in 1887, the future Saint Thérèse of Lisieux attended a general audience with Pope Leo XIII and asked him to allow her to enter the Carmelite order. Even though she was strictly forbidden to speak to him because she was told it would prolong the audience too much, in her autobiography, Story of a Soul, she wrote that after she kissed his slipper and he presented his hand, instead of kissing it, she took it in her own hand and said through tears, "Most Holy Father, I have a great favor to ask you. In honor of your Jubilee, permit me to enter Carmel at the age of 15!" Pope Leo XIII answered, "Well, my child, do what the superiors decide." Thérèse replied, "Oh! Holy Father, if you say yes, everybody will agree!" Finally, the Pope said, "Go... go... You will enter if God wills it" [italics hers] after which time two guards lifted Thérèse (still on her knees in front of the Pope) by her arms and carried her to the door where a third gave her a medal of the Pope. Shortly thereafter, the Bishop of Bayeux authorized the prioress to receive Thérèse, and in April 1888, she entered Carmel at the age of 15.
  • While known for his cheerful personality, Leo also had a gentle sense of humor as well. During one of his audiences, a man claimed to have had the opportunity to see Pius IX at one of his last audiences before his death in 1878. Upon hearing the remarkable story, Leo smiled and replied, "If I had known that you were so dangerous to popes, I would have postponed this audience further".
  • He played chess to a fairly high level, although a game attributed to him 1875 seems not to be genuine as it duplicates an earlier game Ilya Shumov vs Carl Friedrich Von Jaenisch.

See also


  1. Kühne 7
  2. Kühne 12
  3. Kühne 20
  4. Kühne 23
  5. Kühne 24
  6. Kühne 31
  7. Kühne 37
  8. Kühne 52
  9. Kühne 62
  10. Kühne 66
  11. Kühne 76
  12. Kühne 78
  13. Kühne 102
  14. Kühne 105
  15. Kühne 129
  16. "Aeterni Patris - On the Restoration of Christian Philosophy". Encyclical of 4 August 1879
  17. Schmidlin 409
  18. Schmidlin 413
  19. Schmidlin 414
  20. Domus Sanctae Marthae & The New Urns Used in the Election of the Pope - - Retrieved 10 February 2009
  21. "Pope Leo XIII and his Household" in The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, p. 596
  22. Schmidlin, II, 506-514
  23. Tomas Caivano — Historia de la guerra de América entre Chile, Perú y Bolivia (1907)
  24. Benno Kühne, Unser Heiliger Vater Papst Leo XIII in seinem Leben und wirken, Benzinger, Einsiedeln, 1880, 247
  25. Duffy 241
  26. Schmidlin 394
  27. Schmidlin 395
  28. Schmidlin 395
  29. Annuario Pontificio 2005, p.1908
  30. Schmidlin 395
  31. Catholic encyclopedia [1]
  32. Laurent Volken, 1963, Visions, Revelations and the Church P.J. Kenedy Publishers
  33. Niels Christian Hvidt, 2007, Christian Prophecy: The Post-Biblical Tradition, OUP Press ISBN 0195314476 page 242
  34. Catholic News Agency on the Prayer of Consecration to the Sacred Heart [2]
  35. Divino Afflante Spiritu 1-12
  36. Duffy 241
  37. Franzen 371
  38. Franzen 371
  39. Ludwig von Pastor, Errinnerungen, 1950
  40. Franzen, 372
  41. Duffy 242
  42. Duffy 244
  43. Suprimi apostolatus Rudolf Graber, Die marianischen Weltrundschreiben der Päpste der letzten 100 Jahre, Würzburg; 1954 , p 30.
  44. Encyclical Octobri Mense Graber 48
  45. Graber 62
  46. Graber, 83
  47. Graber 115
  48. Bäumer, 96
  49. J M Höcht, Fatima und Pius XII, 1956
  50. Köster 54
  51. Bäumer, IV, 97
  52. Bäumer, IV 97
  53. Rosmini
  54. Bäumer, IV 97
  55. Humanum Genus 19
  56. Humanum Genus 20, 21, 22
  57. Rerum Novarum, 17
  58. Humanum Genus 26
  59. Humanum Genus 26. 27
  60. Humanum Genus 28
  61. Humanum Genus 29
  63. Guila vs Gioacchino Pecci (1875) "The Pope and his Bishops" at
  64. Ilya Shumov vs Carl Friedrich Von Jaenisch (1845) at


  • Remigius Bäumer et al. Marienlexikon, Eos, St. Ottilien, 1992
  • Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners, A History of the Popes, Yale University Press, 1997
  • August Franzen, Remigius Bäumer, Papstgeschichte, Herder Freiburg, 1988
  • O'Reilly, Bernard. Life of Leo XIII — From An Authentic Memoir — Furnished By His Order. 1887. New York: Charles L. Webster & Company.
  • Thérèse, of Lisieux, Saint. Story of a Soul — The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux Third Edition 1996. Washington, DC: ICS Publications. Translated from the original manuscripts by John Clarke, O.C.D.
  • Benno Kühne, Papst Leo XIII, C&N Benzinger, Einsideln, New York and St. Louis, 1880
  • Josef Schmidlin, Papstgeschichte der neueren Zeit, München, 1934
  • Quardt, Robert. Der Meisterdiplomat. 1964 Kevelaer, Germany: Verlag Butzon & Bercker. Translated by Ilya Wolston. The Master Diplomat — From the Life of Leo XIII. New York: Alba House.
  • The Catholic Encyclopedia (edition of 1913, see also under External links)

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