Leo III

Pope from 795. He was a native Roman, and his first significant act on election was to send to Charlemagne* the standard of Rome and the keys of Peter’s sepulcher and of the city. In 799, having been accused by enemies of serious misbehavior, he barely escaped with his life. He appealed to Charlemagne, who came to Rome in 800 and before whom Leo purged himself on oath of the accusations. Two days later, on Christmas Day, he crowned Charlemagne emperor, perhaps in order to suggest that this was the prerogative of the pope alone. This put a strain on the improving relations with the East. Leo tried to correct this in 809 when, confirming the correctness of the Filioque clause introduced into the Nicene Creed,* he urged that the creed should not be chanted in the public liturgy. Leo was canonized in 1673.