The Apostle Peter and Pope St. Leo

St. John Moschos ca. 550-619

Abba Menas, ruler of the same community also told us that he had heard this from the same Abba Eulogios, Pope of Alexandria: When I went to Constantinople, [I was a guest in the house of] master Gregory the archdeacon of Rome, a man of distinguished virtue. He told me of a written tradition preserved in the Roman church concerning the most blessed Leo, Pope of Rome. It tells how, when he had written to Flavian, the saintly Patriarch of Constantinople, condemning those impious men, Eutyches and Nestorius, he laid the letter on the tomb of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles. He gave himself to prayer and fasting, lying on the ground invoking the chief of the disciples in these words: ‘If I, a mere man, have done anything amiss, do you, to whom the church and the throne are entrusted by our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, set it to rights’. Forty days later, the Apostle appeared to him as he was praying and said: ‘I have read it and I have corrected it’. The pope took the letter from Saint Peter’s tomb, unrolled it and found it corrected in the Apostle’s hand. (The Spiritual Meadow, 147.)

When Abba Amos went down to Jerusalem and was consecrated patriarch, all the higoumens of all the monasteries went up to do homage to him and, amonst them, I also went up, together with my higoumen. The patriarch started saying to the fathers: ‘Pray for me, fathers, for I have been handed a great and difficult burden and I am more than a little terrifed at the prospect of the patriarchal office. Peter and Paul and Moses, men of their stature are adequate shepherds of the rational sheep, but I am person of little worth. Most of all, I fear the burden of ordinations. I have found it written that the blessed Leo who became primate of the church of the Romans, remained at the tomb of the Apostle Peter for forty days, exercising himself in fasting and prayer, invoking the Apostle Peter to intercede with God for him, that his faults might be pardoned. When forty days were fulfilled, the Apostle appeared to him, saying: ” I prayed for you, and all your sins are forgiven, except for those of ordinations. This alone will be asked of you: whether you did well, or not, in ordaining those whom you ordained”.’ (ibid. 149.)