Pope Leo II

Pope Leo II (611 – 28 June 683) was Bishop of Rome from 17 August 682 to 28 June 683.[2] He is one of the popes of the Byzantine Papacy.

Pope Saint

Leo II
19th century depiction of Pope Leo II
Papacy began17 August 682
Papacy endedJuly 683[1]
SuccessorBenedict II
Created cardinal5 December 680
by Agatho
Personal details
Birth nameLeo Maneius
BornSicily, Byzantine Empire
DiedJuly 683 (aged 72)
Rome, Byzantine Empire

Background and early activity in the Church

He was a Sicilian by birth (the son of a man named Paulus). He may have ended up being among the many Sicilian clergy in Rome, at that time, due to the Islamic Caliphate battles against Sicily in the mid-7th century.[3] Though elected pope a few days after the death of Pope St. Agatho on January 10, 681, he was not consecrated till after the lapse of a year and seven months (17 August 682).[2] Leo was known as an eloquent preacher who was interested in music, and noted for his charity to the poor.[4]


Elected shortly after the death of Agatho, Leo was not consecrated for over a year and a half. The reason may have been due to negotiations regarding imperial control of papal elections.

These negotiations were undertaken by Leo's predecessor Agatho between the Holy See and Emperor Constantine IV. They concerned the relations of the Byzantine Court to papal elections. Constantine IV had already promised Agatho to abolish or reduce the tax that the popes had been paying to the imperial treasury at the time of their consecration, an imperial policy that had been in force for about a century.[2]

Leo's short-lived pontificate did not allow him to accomplish much, but there was one achievement of major importance: he confirmed the acts of the Sixth Ecumenical Council (680681). This council had been held in Constantinople against the Monothelite controversy, 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, he made them known to the nations of the West. In letters written to the king, the bishops, and the nobles of Spain, he explained what the council had effected, and he called upon the bishops to subscribe to its decrees.[2]

During this council, Pope Honorius I was anathematized for tolerating Monothelism. Leo took great pains to make it clear that in condemning Honorius, he did so not because Honorius taught heresy, but because he was not active enough in opposing it.[5] In accordance with the papal mandate, a synod was held at Toledo (684) in which the Third Council of Constantinople was accepted.

Regarding the decision of the council, Leo wrote once and again in approbation of the decision of the council and in condemnation of Honorius, whom he regarded as one who profana proditione immaculatem fidem subvertare conatus est (roughly, "one who by betrayal has tried to overthrow the immaculate faith"). In the Greek text of the letter to the Emperor in which the phrase occurs, the milder expression subverti permisit ("allowed to be overthrown...") is used for subvertare conatus est.

At this time, Leo put an end to the attempts of the Ravenna archbishops to get away from the control of the Bishop of Rome, but also abolished the tax it had been customary for them to pay when they received the pallium.[6]

Also, in apparent response to Lombard raids, Leo transferred the relics of a number of martyrs from the catacombs to churches inside the walls of the city. He dedicated two churches, St. Paul's and Sts. Sebastian and George.[6] Leo also reformed the Gregorian chant and composed several sacred hymns for the divine office.


Leo was originally buried in his own monument; however, some years after his death, his remains were put into a tomb that contained the first four of his papal namesakes.[7]


  1. Stancati, Tommaso. Julian of Toledo, The Newman Press, 2010, p. 132, ISBN 9780809105687
  2.  Mann, Horace Kinder (1910). "Pope St. Leo II" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. 9. New York: Robert Appleton.
  3. Jeffrey Richards (1 May 2014). The Popes and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages: 476-752. Routledge. p. 270. ISBN 9781317678175.
  4. Monks of Ramsgate. “Leo II”. Book of Saints, 1921. CatholicSaints.Info. 4 November 2014
  5. Butler, Alban. “Saint Leo II, Pope and Confessor”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 26 June 2013
  6. Popes Archived 2006-02-06 at the Wayback Machine
  7. Reardon, Wendy. The deaths of the Popes.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Mann, Horace Kinder (1910). "Pope St. Leo II" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. 9. New York: Robert Appleton.

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Benedict II
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