Leo and Attila
- Leo Repulsing Attila - fresco by Raphael
Today is the Memorial of St. Leo the Great. One of the things for which Pope Leo is famous is turning Attila the Hun and his army from the gates of Rome. Here's what Wikipedia says ...
When Attila invaded Italy in 452 and threatened Rome, it was Leo who, with two high civil functionaries, went to meet him, and so impressed him that he withdrew -- at least according to Prosper of Aquitaine, although Jordanes, who represents Leo's contemporary Priscus, gives other grounds. Pragmatic concerns such as the large sum of gold that accompanied Leo, or logistical and strategic concerns, may have been the true reason for Attila's mercy. Attila's army was already quite stretched and full from booty from plunder, the Pope's plea for mercy may well have merely served as an honorable reason to not continuing on and sacking the Roman capitol. His intercession could not prevent the sack of the city by the Vandals in 455, but murder and arson were repressed by his influence. He died probably on November 10, 461.
A fun way to learn more about this is to rent the 2001 TV miniseries Attila, starring Scottish actor Gerard Butler (of Beowulf and Grendel and 300) and Powers Boothe ... I thought it was worth a watch :-)