Friday, March 07, 2008
Pope of the Week: Leo XIII 1878-1903
Reigning until the age of 93, Leo XII was the oldest pope, and had the third longest pontificate, behind John Paul II. He is known as the "Pope of the Working Man", "The Social Pope". His parties were legendary.
Leo XIII was the first Pope of the 20th century. He was the first Pope of whom a sound recording was made. He was also the first Pope to be filmed on the motion picture camera. He was filmed by its inventor, W. K. Dickson, and blessed the camera afterward.
While known for his cheerful personality, Leo also had a gentle sense of humor as well. During one of his audiences, a man claimed to have had the opportunity to see Pius IX at one of his last audiences before his death in 1878. Leo replied, "If I had known that you were so dangerous to popes, I would have postponed this audience further". He then reeled off a string of mother-in-law gags.