Leo the Great and the Spiritual Rebuilding of a Universal Rome


Leo the Great was a major figure of the late Roman world whose life and work were profoundly intertwined with the political crisis of his day. As the western empire gradually succumbed to the advancing barbarian kingdoms, Leo understood that the papacy needed to expand its authority in order for the church to survive the demise of the political system. This book argues that his achievement was to transform the church not only in the practical level of administrative organization, but in the more fluid realm of thought and idea. The secular Rome that was crumbling was replaced with a Christian, universal Rome that he fashioned by infusing his theology with humanitarian ideals.

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Biographical Note

Susan Wessel, JD, MTS, STM, PhD (2000) in Religion, Columbia University, is Assistant Professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Catholic University of America. She is the author of Cyril of Alexandria and the Nestorian Controversy. The Making of a Saint and of a Heretic.

Review Quotes

' Die Autorin liefert eine anregende Studie über diesen Papst.'
Torsten Krannich, Heilbronn, Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte 121 (2010)

"The great virtue of this book is its exceptionally detailed treatment of so many facets of Leo's world and its attempt to link theology and social history....the book will attract specialists in Leo as well as students of the early rise of the papacy... The work witnesses to immense erudition and research, and will be a valuable addition ao any research library." – Michael C. McCarthy, S.J., in: Journal of Early Christian Studies, 2009

"Somit gebührt hier besprochene[r] Veröffentlichung[...] das Verdienst, diesen auf den ersten Blick möglicherweise etwas langweiligen und wenig originellen Papst in ein neues LIcht gestellt und seine Christologie in eienem größeren Kontext des spätantiken Christentums beleuchtet zu haben." – Katharina Greschat, in: Theologische Rundschau, Dezember 2010


The volume is intended for those interested in early church history, Christian intellectual history, historical theology, patristics, and late antiquity.

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