Pope St. Leo the Great—Tome of Leo
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“This is the faith by which the Catholic Church lives and progresses, namely, that humanity is believed to exist in Jesus Christ not without real divinity, and divinity, not without real humanity.”
The papacy of Pope Leo I (described by Pope Benedict XVI as “undoubtedly one of the most important in Church history”) saw, among other things, the convening of the Catholic Church’s fourth ecumenical council: the Council of Chalcedon. At the Council, the hypostatic union of Christ’s twofold nature—human and divine—was definitively set forth.
The Tome of Leo was a central document debated during the Council, and was eventually accepted as doctrinal. To this day it remains a foundational text of Christology, and is perhaps the theological contribution for which St. Leo the Great is most remembered.
Written in the form of a letter, the Tome is addressed to Flavian, the Patriarch of Constantinople. Flavian had recently excommunicated a certain presbyter by the name of Eutyches, who had taught what would come to be known as the heresy of Monophysitism: the denial of Christ’s twofold nature and the insistence that in Christ there is but only one nature, wholly divine.
The Tome of Leo, rather than reading like some fusty or obscure theological treatise, is actually quite accessible. Leo writes clearly, invoking the text of the Nicene Creed and referencing the Scriptures throughout. He illustrates that humanity and divinity both truly exist in the Person of Christ, the Incarnate Word, and that other mysteries of the faith—notably, Christ’s very sacrifice on Calvary, and our Redemption—depend upon this mystery.
Translation courtesy of Catholic University of America Press: https://verbum.com/product/120407/saint-augustine-christian-instruction-admonition-and-grace-the-christian-combat-faith-hope-and-charity
Alternate Translation at CatholicCulture.org: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/fathers/view.cfm?recnum=2133
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