POPE LEO THE GREAT AND ATTILA THE HUN.
The Western Roman Empire of the 5th century A.D. was only a reminiscence of the Empire former greatness. Corruption filled the government, which taxed its citizens so heavily that some fled beyond the Empire’s borders to live among the “barbarians.” Rome’s economy was wracked by the gradual loss of their conquered territories. The use of mercenaries had debilitated the once-invincible Roman Army. Rome sought peace through gold rather than by military might, paying some of the barbarian leaders to remains outside the Empire’s borders.
In 444 A.D. Attila became the sole ruler of the Huns. He was the most powerful and the most feared man in the Europe of his time. Stories of his cruelty were so frightening that Christians called him the “scourge of God.” Both the eastern and western branches of the Roman Empire paid him tribute to keep him from attacking. But when the emperor in the West, Valentinian III stopped paying tribute in about 450 A.D., Attila invaded Gaul with an army of 500,000 men. Only the combined armies of Rome and the Visigoths stopped his advance, achieving a draw against him in one of the deadliest battles in history, on the Catalaunian Fields. Having been, lets call it a tie, in Gaul, Attila invaded Italy in 452 A.D. He destroyed the city of Aquileia, captured Verona, collected tribute from Milan, and advanced on Rome. No army remained in his way, only a Pope.
Leo (also known as Pope Leo I and Leo the Great) grew up in the Italian city of Volterra, about 35 miles southwest of Florence, in the province of Tuscany. He was educated as a priest, and was an advisor to Pope Xystus III. When Xystus died in 440 A.D. Leo became bishop of Rome. For 21 years, Leo was one of the strongest Popes in history. His most famous test came when he confronted the mighty Attila.
As Attila approached to Rome, Pope Leo and two Roman officials went to meet...