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Pope Leo IX (June 21, 1002April 19, 1054), born Bruno of Eguisheim-Dagsburg, was Pope from February 12, 1049 to his death.


He was a native of Eguisheim, Upper Alsace. The family to which he belonged was of noble rank, and his father, Count Hugo, was a relative of Emperor Conrad II (1024–39). He was educated at Toul, where he successively became canon and, in 1026, bishop; in the latter capacity he rendered important political services to his relative Conrad II, and afterwards to Emperor Henry III (1039–56), and at the same time he became widely known as an earnest and reforming ecclesiastic by the zeal he showed in spreading the rule of the order of Cluny.

On the death of Pope Damasus II (1048), Bruno was selected his successor by an assembly at Worms in December 1048. Both the Emperor and the Roman delegates concurred. However, Bruno apparently favored democracy as a means of Papal election, as he stipulated as a condition of his acceptance that he should first proceed to Rome and be canonically elected by the voice of clergy and people. Setting out shortly after Christmas, he met with abbot Hugh of Cluny at Besançon, where he was joined by the young monk Hildebrand, who afterwards became Pope Gregory VII (1073–85); arriving in pilgrim garb at Rome in the following February, he was received with much cordiality, and at his consecration assumed the name of Leo IX.

Leo IX favored traditional morality in his reformation of the Catholic Church. One of his first public acts was to hold the well-known Easter synod of 1049, at which celibacy of the clergy (down to the rank of subdeacon) was required anew. Also, the Easter synod was where the Pope at least succeeded in making clear his own convictions against emperor were present; here too simony and the marriage of the clergy were the principal matters dealt with.

After his return to Rome he held (April 29, 1050) another Easter synod, which was occupied largely with the controversy about the teachings of Berengar of Tours; in the same year he presided over provincial synods at Salerno, Siponto and Vercelli, and in September revisited Germany, returning to Rome in time for a third Easter synod, at which the question of the reordination of those who had been ordained by simonists was considered.

In 1052 he joined the Emperor at Bratislava (then Pressburg), and vainly sought to secure the submission of the Hungarians; and at Regensburg, Bamberg and Worms the papal presence was marked by various ecclesiastical solemnities.

Unthinkably for Popes of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Leo IX went to war with other countries. After a fourth Easter synod in 1053 Leo IX set out against the Normans in the south with an army of Italians and German volunteers, but his forces sustained a total defeat at the Battle of Civitate on June 15, 1053; on going out, however, from the city to meet the enemy he was received with every token of submission, relief from the pressure of his ban was implored and fidelity and homage were sworn. From June 1053 to March 1054 the Pope was nevertheless detained at Benevento in honourable captivity; he did not long survive his return to Rome, where he died on April 19, 1054.

Leo IX is most remembered for being the Pope who sent the legatine mission, under Humbert of Mourmoutiers, cardinal-bishop of Silva Candida, which authored of the bull excommunicating the Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael I Cerularius (1043–59) in response to his actions concerning the church in Southern Italy. This act, combined with the Patriarch's own bull of excommunication against the West, marks the official split between the Eastern and Western Churches in what is now called the Schism of 1054, the Great Schism, or the East-West Schism.


Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Damasus II

Succeeded by
Victor II

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