*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***
It is the 21st of June 2022. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org; I’m Dan van Voorhis.
Today on the Almanac, we are going to talk about Bruno. Bruno von Egisheim und Dagsburg (I could have said “and” instead of “und,” but this is a pretty cool Medieval name for a Cardinal from the Alsace).
Bruno was born on this day, the 21st of June, in 1002. He was the son of nobility; in fact, his father was the cousin of the Holy Roman Emperor, so Bruno was sent off to a Cathedral school at age 5. He excelled there and was made a canon in the church at the age of 17. At this point, his cousin Conrad was made Emperor, and Bruno was called to his court.
It might help to know that this cousin, Conrad, was the fist of the “Salian” Emperors who, like the previous “Ottonian” Emperors, sought power for the Germanic Holy Roman Empire. This isn’t the Holy Roman Empire of 300 years later (established and powerful) but rather one empire amid others (think: Byzantine and others in the Holy Lands, not to mention the Normans).
In 1048 Pope Damasus II died, and Emperor Conrad decided to make his nephew, Bruno, the newest Pope. Bruno would become Pope Leo IX, and in his short time as a pope, he would become one of the most significant Medieval Germanic Popes. Let’s break it down by looking a the three big things Leo did for the Papacy (many of which would lead him to be sainted.
3. Liberation for the Papacy
While Bruno was made Pope by his cousin Emperor Conrad, the future Pope Leo IX refused to be made Pope by a temporal authority but instead traveled back to Rome to be acclaimed Pope by the Roman people and Roman government. An independent and powerful Papacy would be part of Leo’s legacy. He would also take on Cardinals, not courtiers, as his advisors. Thus begins the tradition of the college of Cardinals as the closest body to the Pope. It’s also worth noting that those pesky Normans of the “Norman Invasion” of England in 1066 were this time marauding around the Empire, and Leo refused to ally with them.
2. Reform of the Western Roman Church
Leo set his sights on corruption in the church. He had been a proponent of the reforms we sometimes refer to as “Cluniac.” They are Benedictine but originated in an abbey in Cluny. Leo would hold the “Easter Synod” of 1049, which enforced celibacy on all clergy (and the question of celibacy in the church deserves a mailbag episode- someone, email me, and I’ll make a note of it). Leo also traveled around the empire, holding mini-councils to reinforce and uphold older synodical decisions.
And finally: Schism- While Leo is a saint in the Catholic Church for his liberation of the papacy and his reform, it is essential to see his role in one of the worst splits in church history. Looking at his dates 1002-1054, that second date might stick out as the famous date of the schism between the Eastern and Western churches. We’ve talked about this before, but Leo and his stance on the Donation of Constantine cemented the division.
And Leo believed that this “donation of Constantine” was legitimate. This “donation” was a forged document that was said to come from Constantine the Great giving the Roman Pope vast authority in religious and civil matters. When the Patriarch of Constantinople wrote to Leo to rebuke certain western practices, Leo responded and leaned heavily on what he believed to be a universal jurisdiction handed down from Constantine and St. Peter himself; when the Patriarch refused to cede that as a legitimate he was excommunicated by a Cardinal. Except that during this particular debate, Leo died. This would make things tricky but suffice it to say, Leo cited that donation as authoritative and set the collision course for the schism marked from 1054, the year of his death.
Born in 1002, Leo- aka Bruno von Egisheim und Dagsburg, the liberating, reforming and schism creating pope was 52 years old.
The last word for today comes from the daily lectionary- from Ephesians.
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 21st of June 2022, brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org
The show is produced by a man whose favorite Bruno’s include the Renaissance Occultist Giordano, City Slicker’s “Kirby” and Professional Wrestling’s “Italian Strong Man” Bruno Sammartino. He is Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man who reminds you that Bruno Mars is actually Peter Hernandez. I’m Dan van Voorhis.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.