Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Pope Leo V

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Very little is known of him. We have no certainty either as to when he was elected or as to exactly how long he reigned. It is highly probable that he was pope during August, 903. He was a native of Priapi, a small place in the district of Ardea. When chosen he was not one of the cardinal-priests of Rome, but was attached to some church outside the City. Hence, in contemporary catalogues of the popes he is called a presbiter forensis. Auxilius, a writer of the time, says that he held "the rudder of the Holy Roman Church" for thirty days, and that "he was a man of God and of praiseworthy life and holiness." Except that he issued a Bull exempting the canons of Bologna from the payment of taxes, we know of nothing that he did as pope. The circumstances of his death are as obscure as those of his life. After a pontificate of somewhat over a month he was seized by Christopher, Cardinal-Priest of St. Damasus, and cast into prison. The intruder promptly seated himself in the chair of Peter, but was soon after displaced by Sergius III. According to one authority, Sergius took "pity" on the two imprisoned pontiffs, and caused them both to be put to death. However, it seems more likely that Leo died a natural death in prison or in a monastery.

Liber Pontificalis, ed. DUCHESNE, II (Paris, 1892), 234; JAFFE, Reg. Pontif., II (Leipzig, 1888), 746. Cf. MANN, Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages, IV (London, 1906), 111 sqq.

Horace K. Mann.