10 Dates in Church History 452 AD: Pope St. Leo Repulses The Huns Historical Background ► The Western Roman Empire was in turmoil: ► Bad economy: inflation and high cost of welfare., high cost of maintaining the empire. ► Political rivalry and barbarism, corruption from within ► Pagan practices and immorality still practiced even amongst so-called Christians ► An unstable military, especially along the frontier borders. Attila and the Huns ► They were barbarians from Mongolia, astute on horseback and the bow; fearless and ruthless battle tactics. ► 435 AD, Attila rises to power that began his westward conquest of Europe. ► As Europe fell, Attila became feared as the “Scourge of God.” ► 452 AD, Attila invades the peninsula of Italy and demands that Rome pay tribute in exchange for peace. Pope St. Leo and Attila ► Roman Emperor Valentinian fled and asked for Pope Leo’s prayers and divine intervention. ► As Attila approached Rome, Pope Leo and other Roman officials met with Attila. Legend has it that Attila had a vision… ► Attila may also have decided to spare Rome and Italy perhaps because Pope Leo left a good impression, or maybe other reasons… ► Attila dies in 453 AD from alcoholism. Without their leader, the Hun army dissipates. What This Means in Church History ► ► ► ► Once Emperor Valentinian left, Rome was left to the authority of the papacy, which in turn became the ‘government’ in the absence of the emperor. The Pope must have prayed earnestly for divine intercession because it was believed that the invaders were God’s punishment for the immorality of the Romans. Attila could have easily conquered Rome but for reasons not fully known, decided to spare her. He met his untimely death one year later. It was through the leadership of the papacy and divine intervention that Christian Europe will be molded.